Coach Michel Therrien knew what the media would ask and he knew what he’d say. It should be no surprise that Therrien’s confident in his team’s chances after they lost the first two games of the Eastern Conference Finals by a combined score of 10-3, on home ice no less.
On Monday, we played with energy and we pushed the pace. I’m anxious to see the guys tomorrow and I feel optimistic for the rest of the series because of the way we competed.
That’s all well and good, but that energy and pace gave them only a 1-0 lead in Game 2 that quickly dissolved before the rest of the team did. Without Carey Price, it appears the Habs are lost against the Rangers.
The question now is if Michel Therrien really believes his own words. If he’s as smart of a coach as he’s been in taking the Montreal Canadiens from the third worst record in the league two years ago to Eastern Conference finalists in the NHL playoffs this year, then even he knows the Canadiens are swirling around the drain after an emotional seven game series against a team they hate a lot more than the Rangers. The Rangers meanwhile don’t seem to care who they play, or what the situation may be. That may be the difference as Montreal has lost their key weapon in a series pegged as a duel of top goaltenders.
Credit Therrin at least for his message. The team will keep fighting, and they might even get a few goals past superstar goalie Henrik Lundqvist. But as Game 2 showed, even when the Habs put their best foot forward, those goals are few and far between. Once Montreal lost their own gold medal Olympian goaltender for the series, it was only a matter of time before the hammer dropped on a Habs team that was otherwise well matched against New York.
A goaltender injury can be a death knell for even the pluckiest playoff team. Just ask Edmonton Oilers fans. Carey Price was the glue that kept the Habs squad together that had just beaten the mighty Bruins. He wasn’t the imposing physical force that PK Subban is, but as the first two games showed, Carey Price is simply irreplaceable to this team.
That’s why Michel Therrien should be confident that he’ll have a job next year and maybe a contract extension, too. The Habs were a mess two years ago and now they’ve taken big strides in winning a couple playoff rounds. They’re young; they’ll be back.
I don’t think the Montreal Canadiens are toast because they’re down 2-0 after games on home ice. I think they’re toast because they lost their queen on the chess board and the Rangers are running wild for it. Too bad. This would have been a great series.