Did that really just happen?
That was all I could muster for a Facebook status in the wake of the Habs’ stunning game-seven victory over the Washington Capitals last night.
I guess I could have said: Bahahahaha, suck it Washington!! I knew it was just a matter of time before Les Glorieux took you down!! I guess it’s just a tough year for big-name Russians, hey?
But had I actually said – or thought – any of that, it would pretty much solidify me as being everything I absolutely despise about SO MANY sports fans. Don’t misunderstand, I’m peaches and cream over people talking trash but when you start a series 33 regular-season points behind your opponent you should shut your mouth even after you’ve won. The satisfaction is in sending them packing, pure and simple.
And don’t even consider an attempt at professionalism as being my motive either, as anyone dumb enough to not hide my Facebook posts knows I am anything but proper on that website.
The truth is I’m as shocked as anyone about this one, including Alex Ovechkin and Bruce Boudreau.
What we as hockey fans – let alone Habs lovers – witnessed over the last three games was something that just doesn’t happen. Sure, eight seeds can beat the No. 1s – believe it or not, 28 per cent have done it since the league adopted the current playoff format – but not after falling down three games to one and certainly not when playing the NHL’s top offense, top power play and supposed top player (though who are these people kidding?).
Not only did Jaroslav Halak stop 131 of 134 shots over the final trio of games, but the Habs blue-liners – led by Hal “who-the-crap-knew-this-guy-was-so-freakin’-good” Gill – blocked almost as many before they could reach the apparently-superhuman Slovak. Plus, a kid with 40 goals on the season and 44 shots in the series drew a seven-game blank and the soon-to-be Norris winner was reduced to a total liability.
These are the kinds of insane factors necessary to concoct such an unheard-of result, and no one is more surprised than me they all occurred in the favour of a team I cheer for.
But it happened. I’m clearly elated that it did. And whatever happens to Le Bleu Blanc et Rouge from this point forward is pure gravy.
When I’m not thinking about how ridiculously awesome this upset was I can almost derive some sympathy for the Caps. They had an amazing season and have taken over top billing in that city – something not possible in most American NHL towns. But when you perform at that level throughout an entire season you tend to snag some expectations along the way.
And unfortunately for them, hockey is a lousy sport to expect to win in.
The NHL playoffs are exciting to a level most hockey fans would agree other sports have trouble matching. The reason for this is the ability for underdogs to come out on top.
And the reason these Cinderella stories often come out of hockey is because of goaltenders. All other ludicrous variables aside, the Habs won because their goalie performed in a way folks will talk about for a VERY long time.
They didn’t win because the Caps played poorly. But that fact just unveils another unfortunate for that club; perception is reality and right now the perception is ‘who gives a rat’s ass about opposition net minding? What the FUntimes happened out there guys??’
The blame game began immediately after the hockey portion wrapped up and you’ll never guess where it landed. OK, maybe you will.
After Washington Post columnist Tracee Hamilton called this “one of the biggest failures in D.C. sports history” she went on to call out the great No. 8 on pretty much everything I labeled on him after game one.
Now, many of you will say it wasn’t Ovy’s fault and that he was one of the few to actually put up some numbers in the series, but Hamilton hits it perfect when she gets into his ability to lead.
“But the day before Game 7, Ovechkin skipped the optional skate. Nearly everyone else showed up. Semin was also a no-show. One might have thought he could use the practice. One might have thought his captain would tell him so. But it’s hard to lead by example when you’re not in the building. It’s a small thing, but it’s not, not in team sports.”
Doesn’t that just say it all? Do you really think Sidney Crosby would skip a skate before a game seven? Not a chance. And not because he thinks he needs the workout but because he understands what the letter ‘C’ means in this sport.
Plus I don’t think I need to point out the fact zero of the captain-less Habs missed out on their optional skate and won’t during the next four-seven games while Ovy goes after his third all-time hole in one.
As for those delightful little Habbies and those four-seven games they are guaranteed to play in, they have about three more seconds to enjoy this latest win because their big prize for beating the almost-best-player alive is a date with the actual-best-player alive. Oh and by the way, Sid’s never played better than he is at this moment.
Good luck boys.
As sure as I was the Caps would upend Montreal rather quickly, I’m that much more sure the Habs can’t possibly find their way to a seventh game against Pitt, let alone beyond them altogether. But I just made eight logically-sound, well-educated picks in round one and finished up 4-4, so my assuredness means about as much as Ovy’s new tri-pack of Titleists.
Quick side note: there are eight teams left and one of every seed. San Jose (1), Chicago (2), Vancouver (3), Pittsburgh (4), Detroit (5), Boston (6), Philadelphia (7) and Montreal (8). I just found that kind of interesting.
Take care all.