Hi all, I'm back from the Greek Isles and ready to sit down and watch this season unfold. As it's the first season of Habs hockey behind the keyboard for me, I have taken the time to consider how to approach each game, each win, each loss.
I used to be like nearly everyone and getting probably a little over-excited after each win and over-exasperated after each loss. But, my rethink led me to the conclusion that what I am after is a Cup. I want to recreate the exhileration that I took for granted in 1986, 1989 (most of the way...) and 1993. I want to see this team win the Cup. That's it.
I'm not here for 82 regular season victories and 3 playoff round sweeps if it ends in a summer sans Cup. That's why I'm taking the practical approach - 96 points, however and whenever they want to get them. Building and learning to be a Cup winner, not a playoff attendee (Atlanta).
So, how about this start?
From my point of view: good. 3 points from 2 games is better than the pace we need to keep to get it done.
I also don't mind the loss. To the Leafs - even better in a way.
Am I crazy?
The Leafs got 2 points, we lost to a division rival. Very true.
But, in my opinion, this team has more than a few things to learn before they can win a Cup. And as painful as it may be for all of us sitting on tenderhooks night after night, players will inevitably do their best learning after a loss. Why is that? Human nature, maybe. Coaching nature, perhaps.
I'm not sure how many have been able to catch a bit of the Rugby World Cup in France (Canadian TV is making it hard enough for anyone to do that). It's been fantastic, and in many ways proves the point here. Each rugby team played 4 round-robin games to qualify for the second round; and, each game was separated by a significant number of days in between. The teams that came to the tournament in top form (New Zealand and Australia) played very well in their first games and cruised through the rest. Others came in and slipped (France, England) but tweaked their approach and most importantly their attitudes. Well France and England play each other next week after both putting in upsets of top sides NZ and Australia, respectively. Had it not been for their earlier losses, I don't see how those upsets could have occurred.
It is the same way with the Canadiens, a painful loss to the Leafs. Giving up the lead in the third. Losing in OT. These are all unforgiveable errors. All things that they need to work on. This game put that into focus. A few more losses will reveal the size of these holes as well as others. Review of the game will lead to creative solutions. And, over time, given the players want to improve, they will.
Even the miracle 93 Habs knew this, taking a couple of devastating lessons in Quebec before setting off down to Buffalo, Long Island and LA. At the time, I wish they'd have learned a few things about scoring on QC in the regular season instead though.
I'm not quite at the point of hoping for losses, but as the Habs inevitably lose a few (there are many losses even in a 96 point season), I'll be calmer this year. Mybe not as calm as the gang on 110%, but hey, I'll try.