What kind of fans would we be if we didn't dust ourselves off, laugh about the state of the NHL and how it really isn't geared to a team built to skate and get ready to celebrate victory in the next game.
In this case, with the 5th game against an opponent that has so far won 3 of 4, it might be helpful to have a few positive ideas to focus the mind and spirit:
1) The team in front of Peter Budaj
To look at the superficial stats, you'd say our two goalies has very similar years but for the wins. But the wins that came to Budaj were no accident. there were some deep differences in the way that he and his team put games together vs. Carey and the same team.
Check these stats out:
Shots against per game: Budaj (24.96), Price (27.16)
Dangerous shots against per game: Budaj (10.88), Price (13.44)
Dangerous shots/shot: Budaj (0.44), Price (0.50)
This is a big deal, particularly the dangerous shots allowed. You can think it coincidence, but I think there's more to it. The best Canadiens defensive effort (i.e., last game) was well on the way to being less than 10.88 chances allowed until the kick in the nets.
2) Jeff Halpern can't be benched
The injuries to forwards are awful, but who knows what Therrien would do with the full deck again. Halpern revealed himself to be a thorn to Ottawa's side. It's better to force the coach's hand on this one and have Halpern in a prominent enough role to exploit the defence he clearly likes to attack.
3) Ottawa on the road
Perhaps more than home ice, it is important to look at the success of the opponent away from Scotiabank Place. The record away was 10-11-3 in the regular season (non-playoff material if not rescued by a stellar home record). They are already 1-1 in these playoffs with a 48 save effort playing a big role in that first 1.
Clearly Ottawa is a team that relies on its match-ups to get the most out of its games. They can be pushed into difficult situations or made to run for ill-timed line changes if the right prodding is done by our coach.
4) Being cheated
The Habs showed how they could recognize the lesson from one game and turn it to the next. In Game #4 they were totally unrecognizable as the squad that was taking 30 well-deserved penalties the game before. This time, they will know that without the proper advantage and focus that circumstance and decisions left to others can cheat them out of hard won gains. They will have learned to keep matters in their own hands.
5) Goonless = unfightable
As idiotic as this is (what then the justification for fighting at all), the reality is that Montreal is less at risk of intimidation through the fists of Smith, Neil and co. without Prust and White in the lineup than with them in. This won't necessarily negate Ottawa's plan to intimidate in other ways (i.e., targeted injurious hits), but it will make it less possible to carry out without them risking penalty.
There is never any guarantee of victory and good games can always be scuffled by turns of circumstance. But if the Habs want to cling to advantages they have, I'd suggest these are a few.
Enjoy the game tonight.
Mieux vaut tard que jamais!
5 hours ago