HABS DOWN BUT NOT OUT


Peter Budaj

Peter Budaj

My good friend and CJAD colleague Rick Moffat appears ready to see the 2012-13 edition ride off into the sunset: a job well done, by virtue of the fact that they made the playoffs.

What a load of horse-poop.

First of all, last time I checked: a team needs to win four games to win a playoff series.  The Ottawa Senators have won three games. The Montreal Canadiens have won one. Yes, the gas tank is almost empty, but make no mistake about it: the needle on the guage hasn’t hit “E” yet.

Yes, tomorrow night the Canadiens will be missing Brian Gionta (out for the season with a torn bicep and scheduled to undergo surgery Friday), Brandon Prust (upper body), Ryan White (upper body) and Lars Eller (who skated on his own today at Brossard but remains out of action).  And Carey Price is officially listed as “day to day” after literally going down (perhaps for the count) with a lower body injury in the final seconds of last night’s heartbreaking loss loss in overtime.

But this series is not over. And if there ever was a time for Peter Budaj to earn his keep, and that brand-new, mid-season contract extension, it’ll be tomorrow night, if Price can’t go.

The Canadiens are not in “bonus time” as Rick would suggest. They are in playoff time.  They advanced to the post-season as a result of a terrific regular season (save for a stumble at the end). The bar has been set, high, by this team.  And I don’t believe for a moment that Habs’ fans will be giving each other “high five’s” and engaging in a whole bunch of back-slapping, because of an “enjoyable” season, if these playoffs DO come to an end for the Canadiens tomorrow night.

Yes, the future is bright for several reasons: two of them being Brendan Gallagher and Alex Galchenyuk. But I’m not about to look toward the future, until the present is the past. And I don’t believe for a moment the Montreal Canadiens are, either.

Head coach Michel Therrien used the word “courage” a number of times today in speaking to reporters, and for good reason.

“These are a bunch of guys who have alot of courage; a lot more courage than people think,” said Therrien. “And I know because I live with those guys every single day.”

Therrien singled out the courage Brian Gionta showed by trying to play through a torn bicep; an injury that he suffered in the first game of this series.

“When we heard the news that he was not capable of playing, the Captain was crying in my arms,” said Therrien.

“Tomorrow night I know we’re going to give a great effort; we’re going to be tough to play against.  We’re going to give everything that we’ve got. There’s no doubt in my mind.”

There’s no doubt in my mind either, coach.

See you back in Ottawa.

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About ahefter

I have covered hockey extensively during my 30-year sports broadcasting career. From the Miracle on Ice at Lake Placid to the Edmonton Oiler dynasty years, I've shared my views on hockey with listeners in Montreal, Toronto and Vancouver. You can "catch me in action" on Youtube at the following URL: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1n5BdB9ngYw My radio stops include TSN 690 Montreal, CJAD Montreal, CKNW Vancouver, and CKEY Toronto. I also ran the Canadian Press sports desk (radio). My travels as a network reporter have taken me to four Olympics, most recently Vancouver 2010. I'm currently an Applied Assistant Professor within the School of Communication at the University of Hartford.
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