Caps-Habs Game 7: The numbers lied to us
I don’t know how many glasses of white, and I still woke up at 6 to go for a run this morning. I’m a champ. I ain’t no Halak, though, and I didn’t make history last night. The first 8th seed to come back from a 3-1 deficit to win a series against the top seed? Our Habs.
Also, 33 points behind in the standings, 101 less goals-for, bla bla bla, second-worst even-strength in the league, 19th overall, etc. The numbers said the Habs would get swept, and embarrassingly, embarrassingly so. Hell, the numbers in the last two games said the Habs had no business being in them at all. As a team, the Habs blocked, saved, and got lucky on 188 scoring attempts by the most offensively potent team in the league over those two games alone. I don’t want to tell you what they sent back the other way. I wish I could say it was “just less than half” but that’s too generous a number.
And in any case, the numbers are liars.
As they say, that’s why they play the games. The Capitals may be a far, far superior team, but they never played like a playoff team. “The playoffs are a different beast” is not just a cliche we throw at people because our team’s regular season kinda sucked. They really are a different beast, and if you’re not ready to turn into a different animal yourself in the postseason you’re not going to last very long.
I know the Caps are considered tougher than our Habs. But after watching the series you just watched, you tell me… which one of these Capitals do you see taking a puck in the face to block a shot when the team’s back is against the wall in a later round? Right. Now how many of the Habs do you see doing that? I lot more, I’d bet.
It’s not just about simply elevating your game, which the Caps didn’t do but most of the Habs did. It’s elevating your game and then playing it balls out.
Halak has been this important all season, but the attitude he brought to the last two games may have created some sort of aura around him, deflecting shots that beat him straight off the post.
Maxim Lapierre, on the other hand, was a useless asshat all season, but he earned a little bit of my respect over the past seven games.
All the G’s… Gorges, Gionta, Gill, Gomez played hard all year anyway, but they turned into absolute machines in this series.
Pleks, Cammy, Moen… almost everybody.
Except Benoit Pouliot. He got kind of struggly towards the end of the regular season anyway, and was sort of back to good Benoit Pouliot in the first round. The problem? He didn’t get that he was supposed to elevate his game and got left behind by the others. I think this may be his his first playoff series, so I guess it’s understandable, but wake up, coaches and veterans, this is where you come in.
In any case. The Caps thought they could get by on their regular season awesomeness alone. They’ve been thinking that for a few series in a row, now, and gone to seven games in all of them, winning only one against a team that needs to enrol in some sort of leadership identity program or something. Maybe it’s time for a new Caps approach. One that can turn the team into a different beast in the postseason.
So, Habs fans. We have a little over a day left to enjoy this feeling, because starting tomorrow night, Pittsburgh is going to crush Montreal and it’s going to be a massacre. That team isn’t just a different animal. It’s a playoff pedigree animal. And Crosby and Malkin aren’t going to come up empty on however many shots Semin didn’t convert.
While we’re all still in the Habs fan honeymoon period:
- therangersfan texted me before the game: “Just saw two guys in the subway with vintage Habs jerseys on. You got this.”
- My friend D, who also lives in New York but doesn’t really watch much hockey, was dragged to a bar to watch the game by her guy, who will henceforth be known as theislandersfan (which narrowly won out over thepilesfan) and texted me that she was cheering for the Habs.
- Harry M, a huge Boston fan, was temporarily a Habs fan last night because he preferred Philly over Pittsburgh.
- To that, I say, Habs fans preferred Philly over Pittsburgh two years ago, too. Pittsburgh beat the Rangers and the Habs lost to Philly in 5.
- Got a lot of love from non-Habs fans last night. All except Leafs fans, and after the Habs are no longer in the playoffs metricjulie and I will reveal to you our theory about them.
- Actually, one Leaf fan was was on bbm with me while watching the game and said that even though he couldn’t bring himself to cheer for the Habs he would instead enjoy Halak’s performance. I’ll take it.
- Habs fans, please don’t be obnoxious or ungracious to Caps fans today. They are nice people, and as I said before, if I don’t find you, the hockey gods will.
- I wrote the first draft of a season post-mortem after Game 4. The Habs haven’t lost a game since. I may keep editing it after every game and see if it brings a Stanley Cup.