Not me. Not you. Pretty well no one. With a convincing 4-1 win Saturday night over the Toronto Maple Leafs, all of a sudden all of the momentum has moved down the 401 to Montreal and us angsty Habs fans are a lot less angst-filled this morning.

The season could not have ended in better fashion for the Canadiens. They showed they could beat the Loafs in their home rink, they humiliated starting goalie James Reimer (who got the hook!), moved into second place in the conference and first place in the Northeast division ahead of Boston (who lost 3-2 in OT to the surging Washington Capitals) and generally looked liked a team ready to battle anyone in the playoffs starting Tuesday at the Bell Centre.

Even better, the Leafs looked, to quote their perceptive coach Randy Carlyle, “brain dead”. I love it.

Before the game Joffrey Lupul made widely-publicized comments about how the big, tough Leafs could take advantage of the smaller Habs – which may have excited Don Cherry but obviously proved to be inspirational bulletin board material for the Habs.

The Leafs clearly thought they could intimidate the Canadiens and it didn’t work. They started bruisers Colton Orr, Frazer McLaren, and Mark Fraser, hoping to set the tone. But Montreal did what it did against Boston in that heart-breaking first-round seven-game series a couple of years ago – basically saying, ‘you can goon around all you like, we’re going to play hockey and guess what Colton, man for man, we’re a better team than you guys.’ Against the Bs that playoff, that brought Montreal within one P.K. Subban slapshot of eliminating the team that went on to win the Cup and last night it just deflated the Leafs balloon.

So I know many out there figure I only like to grumble, but there’s not much to gripe about this morning. Who at the start of the season thought that the team that finished last in the East last season was going to finish near the top of the conference this year? Exactly. No one.

General manager Marc Bergevin has done an extraordinary job of turning this team around in short order and if you think that’s easy, just look at how long rebuilding has taken in Toronto, Edmonton and Long Island. It’s a tough job and Bergevin has done all the right things, from coaching decisions – hello Jack Adams finalist Michel Therrien – to players pick-ups – bonjour Brandon Prust.

Sure there have been mis-steps – Bergevin should never have gone near Colby Armstrong and that big contract for Travis Moen isn’t looking that smart round about now.

But the facts are right there in front of you on The Habs will either finish second or fourth in the conference and will start the playoffs with home-ice advantage. Amazing.

And, with 20-20 hindsight, the choice to start Peter Budaj Saturday was a brilliant move. The team, I think, plays with more confidence right now in front of the Slovakian back-up goalie (eds. note: Hmmmm that reminds me of another playoff run) but by getting a solid game from Budaj, you’re free to start the thoroughbred Tuesday and if Carey Price stumbles – and honestly I hope he doesn’t – you have a plan B, B as in Budaj.


  1. Jeff D Smith says:

    how can u say the habs have no worries against the leafs? Why don’t you look at all the games they faced each other this year and the total goals for and against then come shoot yer mouth off.

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