Hockey NHL Playoffs

Forget Chris Lee, It’s a Best of Three!

The Montreal Canadiens and more specifically Carey Price deserved a better fate last night. They, the Knights and hockey fans in general deserved better refs but now that Chris Lee is hopefully in the rearview mirror for good, the Habs and Golden Knights are in a best of three for a chance to compete for the Stanley Cup! With the series heading back down South to Vegas, there is much more to be optimistic about after Game 4 when you consider how badly the Habs were dominated in Game 3.

Before getting started, Rest in Peace Tom Kervers and condolences to his family and friends. Kervers was the first (and only until Caufield this year) Habs draft pick to win the Hobey Baker Award.

Game 3 was the Carey Price show, he proved to any and all doubters why he is worth every penny of that contract. The scariest part (for Vegas at least) is that it feels like Price still has another level he can elevate his game to. Maybe it’s just blind loyalty and naive optimism but the Habs and Price have come this far, so why not believe? Who doesn’t love an underdog story! Except for maybe Leafs’ fans but that’s natural. Price weathered the storm for the first two periods of Game 3, which allowed the Habs to finally wake up and find their game.

Carey Price Tangent Alert! Habs fans need to take a moment to appreciate the fact that this is only Price’s 3rd best save of the playoffs. This man is not human, Habs fans, we are not worthy.

From the 3rd period on the Habs outshot and for the most part outplayed Vegas and they managed to pull off the improbable win. Everything seemed to be coming together perfectly for the Habs, their depth was coming alive, Price was at the top of his game and the team was getting some serious puck luck (thank you Fleury). As much as this was more about Fleury mishandling the puck, Anderson deserves credit for beating out the icing, forcing Fleury to play the puck, leading to the goal.

Montreal was able to carry that momentum into Game 4, however hockey is a cruel b***h and when the hockey gods giveth, the hockey gods also taketh. Just like in Game 3, the team that got dominated all game was able to capitalize on their opportunities and snuck out of the building with the win. However, despite the loss last night, there are a lot of good takeaways for the Habs from this game. First and foremost they dominated at 5on5 in every way, shape and form. No one wants to give the Habs credit except for their team, players and fans, but for anyone who thinks the Habs are just “lucky”, please explain this chart. I’ll wait.

The D core that people love to shit on are showing up and playing a game plan that works for them, and more importantly, maximizes Carey Price’s impact on the series. The forwards have bought in as well, led by a near top 5 Selke Candidate in Phil Danault, the Habs are bought in and their confidence continues to grow every game. Even in Game 3 when they were completely outclassed for two periods, there was this eerie calmness to Montreal’s game which paid off with a stolen victory in Overtime.

While this article is meant to remain optimistic, it is important to acknowledge that if the Canadiens hope to make it to the Stanley Cup and have any hope of winning it, they CANNOT lose a game like this. Despite the fact that Price looks metahuman and shows no signs of slowing down during this run, the team cannot expect him to steal every single game they win. They must win the games they deserve to win and last night was a prime example of it.

Full credit to Vegas who had their own eerie calmness in Game 4. Robin Lehner is a bad man and as much as a I want to hate him right now, it’s impossible. Getting back to the Habs, there are a couple guys who need to step their game in for this upcoming Best of 3. Tyler Toffoli, who has been incredible for the Habs in the playoffs, and has two points in this series (1G, 1A) needs to pick it up. It’s nearly impossible to be critical after the season he’s had, however a productive Toffoli often leads to Habs success. He had already captured the hearts of Canadiens fans everywhere, he can become a legend if he leads his team mates to victory and earn a birth to the Stanley Cup finals.

Gally and Petry are playing good hockey and have been solid in this series but they need to start producing. The Habs are getting secondary scoring from the bottom six forwards, but they will need their stars to be their stars to have a chance against Vegas in the final three games. The last name is Jesperi Kotkaniemi, who play a key role in the Game Winning Goal in Game 3, but who has struggled with inconsistency this playoffs. KK needs to get mad and start playing more like a rat, mixing it up between and after the whistles. An angry Kotkaniemi is the best Kotkaniemi and I suggest the Habs bring in Patches O’Houlihan.

A scoring teapot and an angry KK can be the missing ingredients that push the Habs into the playoffs! Oh, and F**K CHRIS LEE!

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