It was obvious game 1 would be hard. But it hurt more than expected.
Coming off huge game 7 win, having to play the Stanley Cup Champs in their arena with only a day to rest, refocus and travel was obviously not an easy task. It’s not about looking for excuses, it’s about understanding what happened. The Habs were tired (mentally and physically), and they were probably not fully ready to start climbing anoher mountain this soon. But that’s ok. It’s the playoffs. The Habs are a n°8 seed, nothing is supposed to be easy for them in the postseason.
The problem is not being down 1-0 in this series. The problem is losing your franchise defenseman in Game 1. I know the Pens lost Staal, and that is a big blow for them too. But the importance of Markov to the habs cannot be underestimated. If the habs doctors can’t find a way to get Andrei a bionic leg this weekend, Montreal is in big trouble.
Other than the Markov injury and the fatigue, I think 2 things hurt Montreal yesterday. After 7 games against Washington, the Habs had apparently forgotten that taking a penalty can actually result in a goal. The Pens were MUCH more threatening on the PP than the Caps ever were, and Montreal paid the price each time they took a penalty. The Habs also forgot what it was like to face a team actually willing to throw some big bodychecks. Sure, everyone hates Cooke, but his hit on Markov was clean, and it was just an example of the Penguins winning the muscle battle.
Things don’t look very promising after last night. But let’s not slit our wrists already. On days like this, it’s time to bring back the rosy glasses.
Some stuff can give us hope:
-PK Subban is playing better and better. With Markov probably out for a while, Martin will have to rely more on him. The hype surrounding him is probably exaggerated, but he had a terrific season in Hamilton, and he is pumped up to be playing in the nhl. His enthusiasm also has to be communicative in the dressing room.
- The habs were not outmatched on 5 on 5. That’s a big change from the Caps series where the Habs mostly barely survived thanks to their defense, their goaltending and their special teams.
- Montreal scored first once again. That’s one of the main reason they upset Washington: they almost never trailed in that series. If the Habs want to have a chance against Pittsburgh, they have to keep this great habit of scoring first.
- WHalak being the current #1 goalie, Price is a more than reliable backup, and that could hopefully give Jaro some time to rest and refocus a little. I really wouldn’t mind seeing Carey in Game 2, especially if Martin makes it clear it’s not a sanction on Jaro.
- Just like against Washington, no one gives Montreal a chance. This is logical given the situation. But this puts them in a no-one-believed-in-us position again. And with leaders like Gionta and Cammalleri aboard, that’s likely a great source of motivation.
- And finally, it’s just a 1-0 deficit in a 7 games series. Once again, no one expects Montreal to win in 5 games. The longer this goes, the better chance they’ll have of another upset. Game 2 will be hard, but if the Habs somehow win it, everything is possible.
GO HABS GO.