Playoffs start Tuesday at Bell Centre…..whoooohoooo (sort of)

Posted: April 26, 2013 in Uncategorized

Thursday night, it was just ‘whoooooohoooooo’ period. In the cold hard light of Friday morning, I’m adding a ‘sort of’. Okay yes the good news is that the Habs are in the playoffs, that these bumblers have at least one series to play, which is one more series than the fans got last spring.

And the team clinched home-ice advantage Thursday by beating the Winnipeg Jets 4-2 but it’s a victory that comes along with an asterisk. That’s because the Jets were up 2-1 going into the third and during that intermission, it was confirmed that both the New York Rangers and Ottawa Senators had won, hammering the final nail in the coffin of the Jets’ playoff hopes.

Now Jets coach Claude Noel says he’s not sure if the players knew this but in this plugged-in world of ours I have a hard time believing the guys didn’t get the bad news. They certainly played in the third like they’d heard the news, letting the Habs walk all over them. Certainly goalie Ondrej Pavelec gave every impression he was already on summer vacation, letting in two beyond-weak goals from Brendan Gallagher and Max Pacioretty.

So it was not the most impressive of wins. Yes it’s better than a loss but it’s hardly proof these underachievers are back on track.

So where does that leave us? In limbo. The most likely scenario is the Habs, who’re fourth in the east with 61 points, will face Toronto, which is in the fifth spot, with 57 points. But it’s far from certain. Montreal could still leap-frog the Bruins and take the No. 2 spot in the conference if Montreal wins Saturday and Boston loses its last two games. Boston has been playing almost as bad as the Habs so this could happen.

And if Montreal wins the Northeast division and takes the No. 2 slot, it could face either the Senators, Rangers or Islanders, depending on who ends up in seventh place.

Let’s make one thing clear. The worst-case scenario is the one most likely to happen – a Leafs-Habs series. Toronto plays like a championship team against Montreal, they’ve humiliated us twice this year, and the very thought of a Leafs sweep has me up nights. Just imagine Ron MacLean, with that Toronto smirk of his, announcing that the Leafs have dispatched the Habs in four. Just imagine Don Cherry’s crowing.

And columnist Francois Gagnon made some good points on C’est bien meilleur le matin Friday morning. The pressure will go nuclear for this series in Canada – right across the country – and in the past, young Carey Price has not responded well to that sort of intense pressure. Gagnon also suggested it’s not a plus to have P.K. Subban playing in his hometown, that he’ll try to do too much to impress the T.O. crowd. It’s just not good.

So bring on anyone but the Leafs. And pray – really, pray! – that this fragile squad find their mojo by Tuesday night.

 

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