In the end, the Washington Capitals had a team of 19 players on the ice named Ovechkin, Backstrom, Semin and Green.
In the end, the Montreal Canadiens simply had a team on the ice.
As a result, the Canadiens, led by head coach Jacques Martin, are in Pittsburgh, getting ready to take on the Penguins in Game One of their conference semi-final tomorrow night, while the Capitals, led by their head coach, Shecky Boudreau, are left wondering:
What the !!*?!?*! just happened.
I’ll tell you what the !!*?!?*! just happened. The Montreal Canadiens just happened. They happened to prove 99% of the hockey pundits wrong, by beating the Capitals 2-1 last night in Washington, to take this series in seven games. In doing so, the Habs became the first 8th-seeded team in this current NHL playoff format to come back from a 3-1 series deficit to beat a top-seeded team, in the Washington Capitals.
Did you see Bruce Boudreau staring into the abyss when the horn sounded to end last night’s hockey game? Bruce Boudreau, so glib and full of himself at the start of the series, who was left standing behind the Capitals bench after the Canadiens successfully killed off a Ryan O’Byrne penalty over the final two minutes of play, to ponder the question:
What the !!*?!?*! just happened???
Did you see Alexander Ovechkin, down on one knee, after the Canadiens sealed the deal while playing, not one, but TWO men short, as goalie Semyon Varlamov scooted to the bench for an extra attacker. There was Alex Ovechkin and his ten shots on goal, left to ponder the question:
What the !!*?!?*! just happened???
Alex Ovechkin: 10 shots on goal on the night. You know what that statistic tells you? That statistic screams out: ME, ME, ME!!! That’s what THAT statistic tells you. Boudreau, Ovechkin and the rest of the Capitals will have all summer to try to come up with the answer to the question “What the !!*?!?*! just happened???” The Canadiens, in the meantime, have bigger fish to fry as they look ahead to their date with the defending Stanley Cup Champion Penguins, thanks to the efforts of a team built by former General Manager Bob Gainey.
You remember Bob Gainey, don’t you? The man who was hung out to dry by many Habs’ fans for assembling a team that fell flat on its face last season, after winning the East the year before. The man who decided that the Canadiens couldn’t win with the likes of Saku Koivu, Alex Kovalev, Alex Tanguay and Mathieu Dandenault and brought in the likes of Mike Cammalleri, Brian Gionta, Scott Gomez and Hal Gill to fill their skates.
Perhaps you were one of the many Habs fans ready to throw in the towel after the Canadiens opened the season by losing five of their first seven games. THIS TEAM WILL NEVER WIN!!!, you yelled at anyone who would listen. The fact that you could judge this team, just seven games into the season, was beyond me. But you did. And you were wrong.
Listen, my mama didn’t raise no fool. I had my doubts, as well. Like you, I watched a team that struggled to clinch a playoff berth in their final game of the regular season. Like you, I watched a team that, after winning six in a row at one point after the Olympic break, floundered during the final week of the regular season before moving on to post-season thanks to a single point earned in a LOSS to the lowly Toronto Maple Leafs.
But, first and foremost, this is a hockey team. This is a team that may have struggled to advance to post-season play after an up-and-down season, but they made it, and they earned the right to move on to round two. And I don’t know about you, but they impressed the hell out of me, in the process.
Now, let’s move on, shall we?