Habs Goalie: Budaj (L)
Opposition Goalie: Anderson (W)
Habs goalscorers: Subban
Opposition goalscorers: Smith, Conacher (2), Turris, Alfredsson, Condra
Oh boy, not a difficult choice. The goal the Habs scored to give their final bit of hope for the season was a textbook PP affair. Fitting that it was a cleanly won faceoff after the nonsense of an ejection from the circle and an immediate drop to the remaining cheating centre. Back to the point men who wasted no time in establishing the lane and shooting top side over Anderson. The final beautiful moment from a season with a few of them.
The only moment of true desperate belief that I could note came from Jeff Halpern at one point before the deluge. He played like a veteran, and the Habs need more of that. It's a shame we have Moen signed and not him.
Rene Bourque - Game Puck
The guy tried it on. He was one of the few who would come up with the kind of shots that could test Anderson. I'm encouraged that he refound his form from the start of the season to some extent. He won't be bought out and can fit onto a top two line in the future.
Galchenyuk has a lot left to learn, but keeping in mind this is really his first season of hockey after his rookie junior season, I think it's reasonable to dream big. He's a big player with an instinct in the offensive zone. It will now be to the Habs crack team of player developers (sic) to see that he graduates through the stages of growth and doesn't lose his way. It will at the very least be fun to watch.
The defenders did relatively little wrong except to trust their goalie. I thought Markov made a few simple plays (including the instinctual set up of the only goal) that merited his selection. It really is a shame that Emelin got injured, as that partnership was bearing such good fruit for the Habs. What's more, the eggs in one basket duo never became more than the sum of Subban's parts.
Our best player cares. I don't care one ounce that he showed indiscipline after the end was clear. He didn't do anything dangerous. I'd sooner have more players do this than none. In fact, it was disheartening to see so many players slumped in acceptance after two periods. His goal was top class and if anyone even studied one of his rushes the forwards might know where to place themselves for the delivery of the puck in the offensive zone. A one man wrecking crew who hasn't quite learned not to do too much.
Budaj really was quite poor in this game, even by his standards. He took his team out of the game by allowing those early goals and then by making them realize he was not to be trusted on the night. While I would never count Budaj among the elite in the league, he is not as bad as this game. I think we'll survive his back up minutes better in the future.
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The Canadiens, the team of no excuses have plenty of them for this loss. Injuries are at the top of the list. While the holes left by the wounded players did ultimately leave too big a gap for the organization to cover, we must not let this team, this organization really get off without questions for the summer.
The first question that must be answered is: which part of this short season was the illusion? The quick start or the laboured end? Keeping in mind that we now stand on the threshold of summer with a team that once again couldn't score when it counted. And it was the same cast that we have called on before to score that left us wanting: Plekanec, Pacioretty, Gionta, Moen, Desharnais, etc.
I am not sure what to make of it. My feeling is that the tightening of rules does not suit this group. How many times was Anderson truly harassed the way Price was in this series? How many goals were pushed in, kicked in, swatted in from a scrum? Not many. The good news is that there seems to be a different approach from Galchenyuk and Gallagher; the difficulty is contracts are not near an end for some of the playoff ghosts.
The second question must surely be goaltending. I don't mean Carey price alone, but the whole Canadiens mentality to goaltending. Carey price is no more or no less average than Craig Anderson has been in his career, yet it never feels like he could approach a 0.950 playoff series. But to watch the Canadiens defenders, it seems to me that the system may be leaving too much to the goaltender, leaving whoever it is to move too far, to save too many clean scoring opportunities.
I think that the Canadiens need to accept that all goalies fall within a very tight range of efficiency at this level and that a goaltending hero can come from a defensive discipline (see Ottawa, Boston).
Contracts are another question. Can a team afford to overpay for some of the parts that don't merit such expense: average goaltending, tough guys who aren't tough, centres who can't shed cover in the playoffs, defenders who continue to lapse.
And so ends the negative portion of the post.
It bears mention that these Canadiens just improved their standing by the most significant measure possible in the regular season with very minor change thus far. The patience for a true rebuild is mostly still there and it must continue. Last year's draft has already paid one dividend and it may pay more. The attention to development can't hurt. The commitment to bringing the key parts into the main team is key.
The Habs of 2013 deserve much applause from us. The team punched above its weight and turned in the most entertaining campaign in some time. The playoffs were always likely to end without a Cup (I've just watched the Blackhawks), so with a little reflection it's been a bonus to have this roller coaster ride. It was a shame that a kicked goal would curtail the effort, but with or without the injuries, Anderson and the Sens defence with their lethal counterattack was too much for the Habs system to bear. The better system won, the better coach won, the better goaltender won, the better captain won.
The better future is there for both teams and the better rivalry looks to continue.
This comeback has been fun. I ope to find the page again soon for some discussion about the future of this organization over the next days, weeks and moths.