Playtime is over…the quest to play in the 101st Grey Cup has begun!
With their 23-20 victory over the Toronto Argonauts to end the regular season, the Montreal Alouettes finish with an 8-10 mark, matching their 2007 season record which was the worst in current Alouettes history.
Last Friday’s game only served as a chance to iron out any kinks that the Alouettes had and to give Troy Smith that much more experience as starting quarterback. Having sewn up the first round bye, the Argos elected to rest several of their starters in order to not risk any injury. So this was a forgettable game and thankfully there was no serious injuries for either team.
Any fan expecting this to be a competitive match-up was surely disappointed. But one only has to take a look at the “meaningless” match in Vancouver this past weekend, as the Calgary Stampeders lost some notable players to injury. You really do take a risk not resting your starters, as these injured players now will not be available for Calgary in the Western final.
Now the Alouettes only have to win one more game; This Sunday’s tilt versus the Hamilton Tiger-Cats, being played in Guelph. It’s a game that is winnable for this Montreal team, as two of the three contests played were decided by less than 4 points.
Had the Alouettes been more disciplined and not taken their foot off the pedal, they would have swept the regular season series versus Hamilton, as the Montreal defense was able to stymie Henry Burris on more than one occasion. In order to win the game Sunday, Montreal has to play it’s strongest game of the season, mimicking the 36-5 beating they delivered to the Ti-Cats in Week 17.
Going forward, Troy Smith will be the hill that the Alouettes plant their playoff flags upon. He’s faced pressure to win before, as he has led Ohio State University to a national collegiate championship game. But this will be his first shot at trying to win a professional football championship. He has been given every chance to succeed from this coaching staff, now Smith has to prove he can silence all the critics who say the Alouettes can’t win without Anthony Calvillo.
This Eastern semi-final has to be the most evenly matched playoff game in recent history. Hamilton may have the slight edge in offense, but Montreal’s defense has given the Tiger-Cats all sort of fits. Sunday’s game being played in Guelph will be to Hamilton’s advantage, as they have played extremely well at their home away from home.
But they just barely got by Montreal in Week 18; they know that they can’t allow the Alouettes to gain any sort of advantage. The Alouettes have the ability to close out games, they need to bring that to Alumni Stadium this Sunday.
One of these teams will establish themselves and punch their ticket to Toronto. I have a feeling this will be a blowout as opposed to the two tightly played games, I just don’t know for whom.
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Having seen a game at Guelph, I can speak to the experience. Be prepared for a chilly affair; with winter fast approaching, the wind will cut through you so dress warmly. And being a temporary facility, don’t be surprised if coffee and other hot drinks sell out quick. Be sure to hit up the Holiday Inn Guelph for a great breakfast en route to the stadium.
I really hope the Alouettes faithful do make the trek to support the team. The earlier game in Guelph was the Fan Train game and those nearly 400 fans made a tremendous impact on the players. Not that they need motivation, as it’s win or go home.
Gonna keep it short, as there’s not much more to say. I do have faith that the Alouettes will bring their A-game to Guelph. This has been a season of challenges for this team, but the playoffs are a brand new season.
Ignore all the problems that this season brought. Ignore the doom and gloom from those who have been wanting to bury this team. As of right now, this team is now 0-0. To quote Jean-Claude Van Damne, “It’s go time.”
Enjoy the game this Sunday, whether you watch it in Guelph or at home.
GO ALS GO!!!
About the Author
Written by Clifford Pine
Montreal born & bred, lover of sports. Passionate about the Montreal Alouettes. Also a great cook & not too bad a dancer.