It's time to recognize The Montreal Canadiens. Les Habitants defeated the Stanley Cup Champion, Pittsburgh Penguins 5-2 closing out the series in the decisive 7th game. The victory also closed down "The Igloo", which will be replaced next season by The New Consol Energy Center. Lady Gaga will be the first event at the Penguins new arena.
Fans in Montreal were going Gaga over their team's victory. The Bell Centre was at capacity with fans watching the game on the arena jumbo-trons. Let it be noted that the actual game was not played in Montreal, so these fans were essentially watching it on TV. The scene outside the Montreal Arena was one of a happy mob. Riot police were on hand, but as far as I could see, were not needed. Fans celebrated Montreal's vanquishing of the NHL's reigning Stanley Cup Champions.
Montreal scored the first 4 goals of the game, two in period one and two more in the second frame. 'Anybody from Greece?' Brian Gionta is... and he scored the game's opening goal for Montreal, with assists from PK Subban & Alaskan Scott Gomez (You betcha!). Former Sabre, Dominic Moore scored next to up the lead to 2-0. Roman Hamrlik still plays? Yes sir, and he assisted on Moore's goal.
The second period saw Mike Cammalleri score his 12th goal of the playoffs. LET ME SAY THAT AGAIN, 12th GOAL OF THE PLAYOFFS. Travis Moen scored a Shorty to make it 4 to nothin', 5:14 into the second period. The 4th goal ended the night for Pittsburgh goalie, Marc-Andre Fleury. Three minutes later Pitt answered back with a Chris Kunitz wrister. A Jordan Staal tip-in would make it 4-2 at the end of the 2nd period.
Half way through the 3rd period, Mr. Rochester, Brian Gionta put the dagger in The Pens chance of a Stanley Cup repeat and made it 5-2, with assists from Gomez and Cammalleri.
Jaroslav Halak made 37 saves, a rather modest showing for the goaltender who is absolutely stealing the playoffs.
Jaroslav Spacek has been largely absent from The Habs playoff roster, playing in only 5 of their 14 games in the playoffs. He had an assist and a humble 15 minutes of ice time in game 7.
Defensemen Hal Gill, Josh Gorges, and PK Subban led the Canadiens in ice time during game 7. Gill was given much of the credit for shutting down Crosby during the series. I'm not sure if Gill deserves the credit, but somebody sure shut down Sid the Kid. Crosby was held to one goal in the series as opposed to the five that he collected in round one versus Ottawa. I think most of the credit should be given to Halak, but the Canadiens, as a team, surely did an excellent defensive job on Crosby.
Sabres Angle: Watching this game gives you two perspectives. #1 Any team can be beat. The Mighty Washington Capitals were taken down and now Crosby & Malkin have had their ship sunk. #2 It is possible to have players that score in the playoffs. The fact that Connolly and Roy each had zero goals in 6 playoff games looks more inexcusable, watching Cammalleri score 12 in 14 games. On the other hand, Scott Gomez has only one goal for Montreal over that 14 game playoff stretch. Even Spacek has one goal in the 5 playoff games he's managed to suit up. Andrei Kostitsyn(8 pts) and Thomas Plekanec(11pts) have had more average offensive outputs, adding depth to the Habs scoring attack, and compensating for Gomez. The Sabres issue was that their two middle guys(Connolly/Roy) contributed nothing, while top-man (Vanek) scored his fair share when he could make it onto the rink.
Oh well, enough Sabres talk for now. It's time to recognize the truly amazing accomplishment of Jaroslav Halak and The Montreal Canadiens. This is their time to shine. I don't see them making it through either Chicago or San Jose of the Western Conference, but they sure have made a statement. Their next opponent is either Philly or Boston, who will have their own game 7 on Friday night at 7pm.
Philadelphia has come back from 3-0 to tie the series 3-3. Cue the statistics on the only two series ever to have a team come back from down 3-0 to win. I swear I've seen this graphic at least once a year on ESPN since I could open my eyes to see a TV screen. The Leafs in 1942 and the 1975 Islanders are the only teams to have completed the feat. Danny Briere and Philadelphia look to become the third team to achieve the 3-0 comeback.