Tuesday, May 11, 2010
Five things we learned from Monday
1. It was an innocent tweet on my part, just a random thought, and the responses came flooding in from Habs fans. I wondered after Max Lapierre-turned-Guy Lafleur scored the eventual winner Monday night to force a seventh and deciding game with the Pittsburgh Penguins if it was seriously time for all of us to consider if this was 1993 all over again, given what that Cinderella team accomplished 17 years ago. "Yes !'' was the uniform answer, and in spades, from Montreal fans invading my Twitter feed last night.
OK then. Certainly, it's hard to believe the 16th-ranked playoff team entering the spring playdowns is one win away from knocking off the defending Stanley Cup champions on the heels of shocking the President Trophy-winning Washington Capitals. "What an opportunity, we did what we did against Washington when no one expected us to, and now a chance to knock off the Cup champs; that sounds like a lot of fun to me, let's go play Game 7 and see what happens," Montreal scoring hero Mike Cammalleri told Hockey Night In Canada's Elliotte Friedman after Monday night's thrilling 4-3 win. The pressure Wednesday night in Pittsburgh will be all on the Penguins. The Canadiens have nothing to lose, and those are the scariest teams to play against.
2. And so the goalie carousel continues in Philadelphia, where the Flyers seem to be rewriting the history books when it comes to masked men suffering injuries. Almost two months ago in mid-March, the Flyers' season looked over when the red-hot Michael Leighton went down. But Brian Boucher guided the Flyers to a first-round upset of the New Jersey Devils and all that was forgotten. "Boosh" was the toast of the town. That's until he suffered a knee injury in Game 5 Monday night, having to be helped off the ice. Poor guy. This in a season in which Boucher battled previous injuries, which originally opened the door for Leighton, and of course October starting goalie Ray Emery saw his season ended by a serious hip injury. Well, so far so good. Leighton took the ice after nearly two months since his last NHL action and preserved the shutout with 14 saves. Guess it doesn't matter who dons the pads in Philly this season.
3. Pittsburgh and Boston joined Chicago the previous night in being unable to clinch a series. The fourth and final win has proved difficult in the second round, with San Jose also failing in its first attempt before knocking out Detroit in Game 5. Overall, teams in the second round are now 1-5 in games in which they can wrap it up, with the Bruins dropping two straight to the Flyers after going up 3-0 in their series. Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews on Sunday morning was telling us that teams facing elimination always seem to find that next gear. "I can relate to that last game in Detroit last year where it had to be our best game of the series because you didn't want to sit there all summer saying, 'We blew it, we really didn't give it everything we had. What could have been?'" said Toews. "No team wants to sit around all summer and say that." The Hawks lost in overtime in Detroit in Game 5 of the conference finals to end their season, but as Toews said, might have played their best game of the playoffs. Desperation hockey by Vancouver, Montreal and Philadelphia has kept those three series alive.
4. Welcome back, Mr. Gagne. The Flyers appear to have found their spark with the return from injury of top-six forward Simon Gagne. The veteran winger potted the overtime winner Friday night as the Flyers avoided a four-game sweep at the hands of the Bruins and then Monday night scored a pair in Boston as Philadelphia suddenly made this really interesting by bringing Game 6 back home.
5. Kudos to the Boston Bruins for honoring the greatest goal in franchise history. As chronicled by our own Joe McDonald on ESPNBoston.com, the Bruins unveiled a bronze statue outside TD Garden to commemorate Bobby Orr's Cup-clinching goal on the 40th anniversary of that famous moment. It reminded me of one of my favorite song lyrics from the Tragicially Hip's "Fireworks," when a young Bruins fan talks about falling in love with a girl and how she was "loosening my grip on Bobby Orr." Classic.