So what is going on with our Habs? An NHL 2nd seeded team losing to an AHL club? How are we going to get over this? How can we get past that 6-1 loss? Simple: We are the Montreal Canadiens. We must play the Montreal Canadiens way.
Our 24 Stanley Cups, didn’t fall off the branch of a tree. We earned it. When teams in the 70’s were checking and fighting their way to the championships, the Montreal Canadiens were relied upon to use their quickness, agility, and transition speed to conquer these forces of nature. And we did. We beat them to end their reign.
Of course we did have our fair share of tough players, but they brought much more to the table than simply drawing blood from their opponent. We had John Ferguson to protect Jean Beliveau but would notch 20 odd goals. We had the solid defender of Pierre Bouchard who would drop the gloves if needed be, with a list of names ranging from Wayne Cashman, all the way to Stan Jonathon. We also had the 6’4 “Big Bird”, Larry Robinson who was much more than a player to make Dave “The Hammer” Schultz have an identity crisis.
Fact of the matter, is that the 2013 Montreal Canadiens do not have a Ferguson, a Bouchard, nor a Robinson. We don’t have the players that would match up with the players of the Big Bad Bruins and the Broadstreet Bullies anymore.While we have players like Prust, Bouillon and Tinordi, they are not our 70’s players.
Our “tough guys” of this season have proven to be much more than simply “tough” players. They are more than to match up with the rock em’ sock em’ players of the opposing teams. Prust has shown to be a great line-mate to the rookies of Gallagher and Galchenyuk. He is there to crash the net, receive the pass, and catch the rebounds. He has proven himself to be much more than simply a “goon”. We need that from him.
Bouillon has shown to be a solid defender to take the body, in order to get the puck out of our own zone. When his name is brought up amongst other players in the league, they will most certainly say, (and as they have), that he is a great underrated defender. He’s a short little guy, but plays much bigger than that. He should focus on his ability to push players off the puck, deep in the defending zone. He is a good player, not a fighter.
Tinordi, our 6’6 rookie defender, has allowed Habs fans to foresee a role beyond that of a fighter. He has been frequently compared to a younger Hal Gill, and although I dislike comparing players, I must say, that this is a persona he should model himself over. He should focus (as he has) on playing that solid shutdown defender role, as Gill did very well. To be relied on the Penalty Kill, is an aspect of the game Tinordi will be great .
For all players on the Montreal Canadiens that have been given the role of being “tough”, they will have to show their skilful talented side of their game. They will have to use their game that does not require dropping the gloves. They have it, so we must see it. This is the way we beat the Bruins three times this season. We ignored their physicality, and focused on speed to beat the defenders.
We can’t match the muscle of the Ottawa Senators. It is obvious. It was seen across the nation and the continent. Fighting is not the Montreal Canadiens’ game; never has been. Our frustration is what lead to our 6-1 loss. We focused on retaliation, which brought the players far from the game itself, allowing the Senators to virtually have an open lane to play hockey.
The Habs received 2nd seed in the conference based on acceleration, speed, as well as our transition game which falls hand in hand. That is our game. That is how the Habs have always played and have always won. This is how the current Canadiens will have to play. This is how the current Canadiens of the 2013 playoffs are going to win.