JUNE 29, 2021 – I turned off game 1 right after the first goal. I’d seen enough and hoped that the team could turn it around.
You see, as the NHL’s first analytics guru for the Habs back in the 90’s you learn things.
What I saw was Tampa laying it hard on Montreal; not just with how they were playing, but with a total attitude that was inspiring. They essentially told Montreal that the cup was theirs and what were the wee boys going to do about it?
Montreal is still a small team. We saw the Suzuki, Caulfield, and the Toffoli line wilt under pressure.
Now don’t get me wrong. Montreal has overachieved this year beyond expectations. It’s been an amazing run and every player and staffer in the organization should be proud to have been part of a magical year.
But the thing is that very little about what was done from GM Marc Bergevin, to the coaching, to the on ice talent is the reason which is a bewildering sentence to write. His two most expensive forwards are not dressing. Neither is physically injured. One appeared to quit the team and one appears that the team has quit on.
There were no major break through seasons by les boys. Carey Price was not very good and Jake Allen carried the team into the playoffs. Their head coach was fired along with their PP and goalie coach.
It’s not like other GM’s are going to review the season and mimic the habs. There simply wasn’t anything to really mimic. Even in the playoffs their stats, other than Carey Price who is finally earning his paycheck in what may be his only run for a cup is showing above average numbers.
You can’t count on teams losing a top six forward and top 4 dman as happened in the first two series.
But at the end of the days Montreal clearly wanted to stay alive more than other teams. There was a lot at stake. Marc Bergevin is fighting for a new contract. Dom Ducharme too. They both will get one now for no other reason than this stretch run which might not be the best result.
For now; even if the Habs get blown out in 4 by Tampa it’s been a great year in Montreal. It’s a once in a lifetime lesson for some of the younger habs and watching Tampa play should be a tool book for any player in the NHL realizing how hard it truly is to win Lord Stanley’s Cup.
Right now Tampa are playing like men. It’s up to the habs to not play like boys.
There have been some bright spots. But there’s a ton of room for improvement. A freaking ton.
If they do manage to win it all it will be a credit to the axiom that those that want to win bad enough generally do.
Side note: Does the NHL have the coolest looking trophies or what!?
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