Archive for May, 2010

Couldn’t the idiots just keep quiet for a whole day?

Posted in Montreal Canadiens, NHL on May 25, 2010 by Scott Schmidt

I should be ashamed of myself.

I can’t believe I honestly thought I would get an entire day of peace and reflection for an exhilarating 19-game playoff run before being bombarded by nonstop overreaction from many of my fellow Habs fans.

Before I go off on a rant, allow me to be clear about something. Habs fans, in general, know no equal when it comes to knowledge of the game and its history. This is not a slight to a few select organizations, whose fan bases have built great traditions of intelligence and passion. It’s simply a defaulted fact that can’t be disproven and therefore cannot be argued.

It would be like saying New York doesn’t have the biggest baseball fans. Like it or not, this is undisputable fact.

However, in order to hold – and defend – such a crown, that fan base must be overwhelmingly enormous. And with unimaginable size also comes inevitable imbalances, ones large enough to alter outside perception of the entire group.

Meaning, a whole bunch of unavoidable idiots are along for the ride and they make the rest of us look horrible in the process.

Do you know how many non-Habs fans have used the sentence, “I hate Habs fans” in everyday conversation? Loads. And this is entirely due to the mass of morons I have just described.

Well I’m here today to tell you, as a Habs fan, I hate them too.

I don’t get these people. It wasn’t even noon Alberta time and I was already reading countless of the most asinine opinions fathomable from the same people who were guaranteed singing Annakin Slade in the shower for the last six weeks.

First of all, I’ll say it again: I think we owed it to the team to shut up for a day and bask in what we just saw but in no way am I directing this anger toward ALL the fans who dove right into the issues of the summer today.

This isn’t about those who want to have a reasonable discussion about Jaroslav Halak’s pending future. But this is about those, who hear him say he wants to take a vacation before he worries about his contract and somehow think he said he wants out of Montreal.

No offense to all the ladies out there but I’m sure Jaro has a girlfriend somewhere to take care of overreacting to anything he says. He doesn’t need you too.

This isn’t about those who don’t want another season with two No. 1 goalies because they feel it will eventually be a distraction. This is about those who say Carey Price is a bust and has no future. This is about those I read today who said he wasn’t a good teammate and looked depressed on the bench during the playoffs.

To talk about a 22-year-old, with every single feature every single GM on EARTH is looking for in a prototypical superstar goaltender like he is a guaranteed failure is already ridiculous. But to also say he was anything but the consummate professional and supportive teammate a backup needs to be, makes you ridiculous and an a$$h01e.

And this isn’t about those who want to talk about PK Subban’s youth and how it eventually caught up to him in the latter stages of the third round. Or those who say he’s got a lot to learn ahead of him and maybe placing the label of league’s next Bobby Orr is a tad premature. This is about that one supreme tool I read this morning, who commented on a TSN article by saying if he was GM of the Habs, he would trade Subban because he’s a defensive liability.

Now, without discussing the obvious hilarity of this specific person’s opinion, just ask yourself this question: How many times have you heard any fan begin a sentence with “If I were GM” and it not be followed by something that makes you want to, at the very least, sneeze in their food?

Never mind the fact this donkey followed it with the dumbest statement delivered by any hockey fan in the history of time. So unbelievably dumb, so awe-strikingly dumb, so bang-my-head-off-a-concrete-wall-until-I-am-diagnosed-with-blunt-head-trauma dumb that I can’t even think of a joke to describe it.

I hate that guy the most.

This has been one of my favourite seasons as a Habs fan, right up there with ’86 and ’93, though short of those for obvious reasons. But this hasn’t just been because of the crazy run they took us on.

It’s been one of the best years ever because of the fellow Habaholics I have met through both this blog and through places like Twitter. Whether from Montreal itself, New York, California, B.C. or even the Philippines, I am so glad to have gotten to know them and to have shared in this great season with all of them.

It’s because of them I know there are great fans out there. I know the true fans have spent the day thinking about how special it is to feel a part of this team. I know there are those willing to trust that team management will make smart decisions about the future or willing to at least wait until the horrible errors are committed before they condemn the entire team, instead of simply mouthing off in the sheer anticipation of failure.

And I know there are fans out there who believe this team looks very good for the coming years and will most definitely be back to take us on another magical run toward that trophy we all LOVE and MISS so much.

But as for the rest of you, I hope you discover the NBA.

Calling all crazies!!

Posted in Montreal Canadiens, NHL, Playoffs on May 24, 2010 by Scott Schmidt

Two possible outcomes tonight:

1) The dream run is over.

2) The elimination of elimination games continues.

These two scenarios both have strong arguments no one could dispute.

1) Aside from the fact Philly is simply out working the Habs, the odds are just too lopsided in the Flyers’ favour. The eight seed knocks off No. 1 when down 3-1? Maybe. The eight seed then knocks of Cup champs down 3-2? Pretty unlikely but considering it happened, I suppose it’s possible. That same eight seed then falls behind 3-1 to the hottest team in the playoffs, one of which they just don’t match up well against, and somehow manages another three-straight wins to reach the Finals? Not in 1,000 attempts.

2) The Habs are 5-0 in elimination. The Habs are the most talented and experienced eight seed the NHL has seen since the new playoff format. Halak has Halak’d the game’s two best snipers and he can catch fire instantly. Cammalleri gets even better when he’s threatened with a tee time.

But who hasn’t already thought of these things or written about them?

Well since I’m building a reputation for ignoring the mundane discussions of who’s going to win, I’d like to continue with my All Habs, All the Time series by giving the Canadiéns fans of the world:

Day 7 – They don’t make them like us, do they?

I’ve often thought the fact I never see people displaying the same emotion I do while watching their favourite hockey team play was entirely do to my immature inability to control myself – even as a grown up – when I’m put in front of them.

I’m 32 years old and if there is one thing I’ve learned about myself, it’s the unwavering necessity to control the environment in which I watch this team. The list of people allowed to be with me consists of other Habs fans – out-of-their-mind-hardcore ONLY – and really close friends, who respect my level of passion, frightened or not.

I yell. I scream. I throw hats (sometimes in the worst of directions).

But these fanatical actions are not exclusive to me and they are not what I am talking about when I truly refer to ‘emotion.’

What I’m talking about is the feeling I get every time I look at that jersey, that one where no matter what I’m doing, my knees weaken and I instantly begin to daydream.

I’m talking about the countless hours of sleep I’ve lost in any given November, just because the team has lost or won three in a row, someone got injured or was about to return, a Leafs game was upcoming or just been played AND/OR the Habs’ best player was streaking or in a slump.

I’m talking about the gigantic goose bumps and swarming butterflies I get when I see mash-up videos made by other fans, who clearly love this team the way I do. Especially the ones showing pregame conversations in the tunnel between Glen Metropolit and Jean Béliveau, where Le Gros Bill leaves with a fist pump that says, “We got this.”

I’m talking about all the tears brought to my eyes. But not the ones that came when The Rocket stood on the Forum ice for the last time. Not the ones that came when Captain Courage first walked his frail body onto the Bell Centre bench after being diagnosed, nor the ones that came after he kicked cancer’s ass and skated onto the ice only seven months later. And not even the ones that came when St. Patrick was traded out of my life forever. I mean that one tear that comes before EVERY single home game just watching the Bell Centre crowd do what no other fan base can match.

Well, as I said, for the longest time I believed these things were exclusive to my particular form of clinical addiction, that I was somehow a lone schmuck who just happened to miss the grow-up-and-realize-this-crap-doesn’t-matter-even-a-little-bit bus.

Then I met T-BO, not to be mistaken for Tae Bo, though meeting him can definitely result in involuntary punching and kicking. Anyway, T-BO is the carbon copy version – not nearly as attractive of course – of me as a Habs fan. He and I are so identical we went from bumping into each other while he had a Habs hat on to my being the godfather of his first born in about two seasons.

Until I met him, I knew only two people who could match up with me as a fan – AT and Bruce – but I’m fairly certain both of these guys have the self-control to at least stay composed if, let’s say, their grandmother were in the room. While T-BO and I, on the other hand, would most certainly be noted as the precise cause of death if we were faced with the same scenario.

But over the past season I have begun to expand my social-networking skills in an attempt to, you know, be something someday and I have begun to explore the interesting world of Twitter. At first it was just for the hell of it, after all I think the first person I followed was Raptors’ rookie DeMar DeRozan. But all of a sudden I started to learn how the system works and I began to find Habs fans from all over North America.

I don’t have a ton of followers – 172 as of today – but the vast majority are now hockey fans and the vast majority of those are Habs fans. And the more I get to know these people – from Active Sticks to Chile Peppers to Smiling Gaineys to Habs Addicts – the more I locate one common theme among most.

These people are just as clinically insane as I am.

They have the same debilitating stomachaches on days like today. They waste just as much time during what should be work hours just thinking about the team. They feel the same true love for grown men most of us will likely never meet in person. And they hang the balance of their summers on the simple fact Les Glorieux did not make it this far, in this way, to lose like this.

So as the true collective maniacs we are, I call on all of you Habs fans out there to join me at 7 p.m. ET in the loudest, craziest, most neighbourhood-disturbing expression of that love NO ONE out there can equal.

Because the team has never needed us more.

Go Habs.

Hey, I remember this feeling…

Posted in Montreal Canadiens, NHL, Playoffs on May 20, 2010 by Scott Schmidt

Time for more All Habs, All the Time…

Day 6 – Memory lane

I remember this club being down two games to none a few times over the years but one spring in particular about 17 years ago sticks out in my head. But probably not for why you’d think.

To really tell this story, I should probably begin a couple of months earlier at the beginning of March that year, when I accompanied about a dozen of my classmates on an exchange to La Prairie, Que., a small suburb of Montreal, just south of Brossard – where the Habs now practice.

It’s not important to note I owe that trip entirely to my older sister, who had taken the same exchange two years prior, got my family close with the French teacher in charge of the program and essentially guaranteed my spot on the roster. The only way my school was sending me across the country in a normal circumstance is if they thought I might not come back.

Before this Quebec trip, I had been sent home to Regina from Banff during a GD band trip because I got caught in the condo suite of some girls from Vancouver. Worst part? We were making Kraft flippin’ Dinner when the chaperones showed up but this genius ran to the bedroom and hid beside the bed. Second worst part? The guy who had been with me still had to perform the next day so my arrogant, overweight band teacher lets him off the hook and sends me home at my parents’ expense because I had already played.

Anyway.

This Quebec trip was absolutely packed with the standard activities a tourist might get into in late winter, including tubing down the mountainside at easily the sweetest tobogganing facility I’ve ever seen. Unfortunately, that experience tied in with some other nonstop, outdoor activity led to possibly the worst cold I’ve ever had in my life.

Of course at the time I didn’t yet know this cold was bacterial bronchial pneumonia and I was in need of all kinds of medical attention, I just knew I wasn’t seeing any doctors. Because the only thing that mattered to me was the ‘Wednesday Surprise’ written on our itinerary, which I was clearly willing to bet my life was a trip to the Forum to see Les Glorieux take on the New York Islanders.

Thankfully, I was right.

I remember thinking I might not even make it to the game when we were on the bus but when I stepped through the front doors of that remarkable building, I was literally held on my feet by the thickness of its history. I felt 100 per cent healthy once the puck dropped and when the boys lit the lamp in the first minute, all memory of illness had vanished.

The Habs played great that game, beating down the Isle by a 5-1 count. The only disappointment during the game was seeing my idol Patrick Roy on the bench, while Red Light Racicot grabbed a rare start. When the final siren sounded and the Habs gathered around their backup in celebration, the Forum faithful went their usual nuts.

I on the other hand, began to throw up.

My teacher rushed me through the crowd to the stairs but as I hit the first step I fainted and began to tumble down towards the lower level. My next memory is the St. John Ambulance room, where I would wake up long enough to projectile vomit on a stranger and then pass out again.

For some reason this experience did not lead any of those in charge of my care to believe I needed any further attention and so I was sent home on the bus with the other students.

The rest of the exchange isn’t important until our Quebec counterparts came to Regina but it’s neat to point out how the next day and for the rest of my visit I was in a hospital in Quebec City, with a team of doctors skilled in every category but bilingualism and then had to release myself against the strictest of recommendations, only to land in Regina, partially collapse a lung and have to deal with countless rumours of my death when I got back to school two weeks later.

But that’s a different story.

The students from La Prairie landed in Regina at absolutely the perfect time. Round one had started, game two was looming and I was no longer a threat to die at any moment. Unfortunately the boys were already down one game, and out of the baker’s dozen of visiting Montrealers I was the only one stuck housing a Nordiques fan.

Anthony Bouquet.

Nice kid, if you don’t count his horrible taste in hockey teams, mullets and mint flavoured Kool-Aid – which by the way I saw people out there drowning themselves in and is easily the nastiest beverage I ever had AND resembles delicious Lemon-Lime in appearance only. Don’t be fooled.

Well, after Quebec had won the first game in overtime – the Habs’ lone OTL of that run – the Nordiques skated the boys into the ground in the second game. And I had to spend every second of it with a mullet-sporting mouthpiece yammering about it in my ear.

And seeing as he was a guest in our home and my family is so bloody hospitable, they all felt a compelling need to assist Mr. Bouquet in his celebratory rants. My blood boiled at a roll I’ve only since adapted to through encounters with Leaf fans and I was VERY close to ‘acting out’ in a regrettable way.

Game three went to overtime and I distinctly recall thinking of how I might dispose of the body should Quebec prevail and Bouquet commence in torturous delight. Thankfully, the game ended in favour of a crimeless evening and the tides of the series were turned. And, of course, everyone knows exactly what Les Canadiéns accomplished thereafter.

For the next three games, as the Habs disposed of Bouquet’s beloved, I was able to bask in a few of the most satisfying victories I’ve ever witnessed and I’m only slightly disappointed in my grace-lacking, unsportsmanlike behaviour through their duration.

The little s#!t had it coming.

The moral of this story is not that 2010 resembles 1993 in a ‘Montreal is going to win the Cup’ sort of way because the differences between the two teams and years FAR outweigh the similarities. It’s just that I – like almost any Habs fan right now – have been feeling a little down or at least a little worried about this situation the club is in and it reminded me of another time when I felt this way.

Now I know I haven’t been to the Bell Centre this year, but I sure have thrown up a lot after hockey games. And I know I’m not being humiliated by some mouthy kid staying at my house, but my team has been serenaded out of Philly’s barn twice with their own flippin’ song and that sure did make my blood boil.

So I guess the moral of this long story for my fellow Habs fans out there is, whether fate or history or any other force has a say in this outcome in the end, all that matters to us right now is we aren’t finished yet.

As my buddy Nasty would say: Chip and a chair boys.

Enjoy game three everyone.

The birth of a freakin’ monster

Posted in Calgary Flames, Edmonton Oilers, Montreal Canadiens, New York Islanders, NHL, Philadelphia Flyers, Playoffs on May 17, 2010 by Scott Schmidt

Well, that sucked.

Seeing as the team will have already put that debacle behind them, I will do the same and just leave it all alone. Instead, I give you another installment of All Habs, All the Time.

Today the horrifyingly beautiful, true story behind a clinical obsession…

Day 5 – I shouldn’t even be a Habs fan.

Had I followed any normal path taken by young Canadian boys, I wouldn’t just cheer for someone else, I might actually be one of those misguided souls to detest the Montreal Canadiéns.

As awful as that sounds, it would have been the natural course for me. I basically grew up during the 1980’s – I was born before that but we don’t need to discuss my being 32 years old – in Regina, Sask. and so I obviously didn’t have a hometown NHL team.

At the time when I really started getting into the game, the Islanders were at the top and their biggest rival was the upstart Edmonton Oilers.

As a real youngster I remember myself thinking I would become an Oiler fan, seeing as they had this superstar player, who was already regarded as No. 1 and Edmonton was a place I could actually fathom existing.

Most of the kids I was attending Kindergarten and such with were making their choice between the Oilers and the Calgary Flames, who were new to the league but a perfect fit for many new, young prairie fan. At the time I didn’t understand why EVERYBODY hated Winnipeg, but then I witnessed its not-so-storied history for the next 12 years.

I guess most people just knew.

Well for the first and last time in my life, I decided to do something because other people around me were doing it and I picked the Oilers. After all, between them and Calgary there was absolutely no contest and so I chose Wayne, Mark, Jari, Glenn, Paul and Grant the User.

Briefly.

In the fall of 1985, I was playing hockey in my first competitive league – before that I had just limped along with the other non-gifted children in park league – and my teammates were far more into the sport than anything I had ever witnessed. NHL talk filled our dressing room every day that season and for the first time in my life I was really gaining an interest in the pros.

But I was also developing my personality in those days and as it turns out, the more people love something the more I feel an undeniable need to despise it at the top of my lungs. By the way, that did NOT payoff during high school when all the ‘cool’ kids started wearing Birkenstocks with wool socks but that’s entirely their demon to bear.

The point is after listening to all my friends talk about how great the Oilers and Flames were for seven months, I couldn’t flippin’ stand either one of them. And when Steve Smith banked one off the Freebaser to knock out the champs, I couldn’t help but take joy in the misery of so many.

Then the Flames met the historic Montreal Canadiéns in the Stanley Cup final. I didn’t know a whole lot about the Flying Frenchmen, except to say I knew they weren’t well liked where I lived.

First of all, my pop is a Detroit fan. He never pushed the Wings on me, though I am sporting a T-shirt in my Grade-1 school pick and I had a Steve Yzerman poster on my wall before even he knew he was amazing. But clearly dad wasn’t exactly loving the Habs.

Add that to a dressing room of French-hating eight-year-olds and you have a perfect opportunity for me to show my true against-the-grain colours.

“LET”S GO HABBIES, LET’S GO!!” *clap-clap*

“Hey Schmidt, pipe down or I’m gonna drill ya!”

“LET”S GO HABBIES, LET’S GO!!” *clap-clap*

“That’s it you’re dead.”

“LET”S GO HABBIES, LET’S GO!!” *clap-clap*

And the real Shmitzy is born.

Now, I figured I better pay some attention to this team if they are going to be my guys so I started the finals with a lot more focus than I had ever watched the NHL before. Up until then, I had never had a pure, deep-down reason to truly cheer for a team.

But now I had the best one of them all. I had spite.

And that’s when I saw him.

I’d been hearing about this unconscious rookie throughout the playoffs but I was only capable of retaining what any eight-year-old is and hadn’t really seen him yet.

His bright white mask looked funny next to the bleu, blanc et rouge of the Habs sweater and his baby face was easily seen through his cage.

Now most Habs fans will remember that first game didn’t go very well but after that, this phenom took over. Game two, that one with Brian Skrudland’s nine-second OT winner (I’ll get to him shortly) was the turning point and the club never looked back, winning in five.

I fell in hockey love with Patrick Roy at that point in a way that can only be described if you actually witness me watch this team today. He definitely started my obsession.

Then three years later, in the summer after the Flames somehow got their redemption, I had done a little weekend work for a Saskatoon gentleman, John Sallinger, who just so happened to be Skrudland’s father-in-law.

He finds out I’m a retarded Habs fan and a few weeks later I’m eating lunch with Brian GD Skrudland and HE’S asking ME about MY hockey career. It was AWESOME.

That December, I end up in Edmonton for that old traditional Christmas/New Year’s trip the Habs used to take west, and after the game – they lost 6-2 and Roy got yanked – I find myself being whisked down to the dressing room area, where I met SO many guys it would make you cry.

Roy, Chelios, McPhee, Smith, etc. etc. etc. I even met Don F. Cherry, who seemed short to me and I was only 12. But shaking all of these guys’ hands – including my hero, Pat Roy – still paled in comparison to when Skrudland came out. Not only did he remember me and strike up a conversation – in the wake of an embarrassing loss no less – but he also handed me this:

Self explanatory I do believe.

Thanks for taking care of this while I was in school AT.

And yes, that is a game stick but no it’s not from that night’s game. That is a game stick from the ’89 Cup final – who gives a s#!t that they lost – and it is signed by EVERYONE. Toe Blake’s autograph is on that stick folks. TOE BLAKE.

This all happened during a time when the team just happened to be one of the best in the league every single season. I could write another 1,100 words about how my obsession grew worse once the team started to falter and I had to actually learn humility.

And I could babble for even more about how in ’96 an old man, barely able to walk and a shadow of his former greatness sparked an ovation so long and so loud it made a building live forever. Or how a certain Finnish-born captain showed a city so used to winning it was all that ever mattered that the biggest triumphs in life have nothing to do with hockey.

No, maybe I shouldn’t be a Habs fan. But it’s sure easy to see why I am.

Now go win game two boys!

Framed jersey signed by '96 team. Donated to auction by Dick Irvin, bid on and purchased by my kickass pop and given to me for my birthday that year, with the Skrudland stick resting comfortably on top, in case you didn't get why I love them so much yet. Who's jealous?????

Halfway! But yet, ONLY halfway…

Posted in Montreal Canadiens, NHL, Philadelphia Flyers, Playoffs on May 15, 2010 by Scott Schmidt

Preface (Except for the fact it has nothing to do with my post): Find a Leafs fan on Twitter and then read the conversations they are having with other Leaf fans. Man do those folks ever need a hug. I swear the only thing keeping them going is a unified faith in this Habs run ending before they win another eight games.

Anyway…

Before I get started with another installment of All Habs, All the Time I have to throw in a little disclaimer of sorts.

It’s not that I don’t take responsibility for my own opinions but I have to explain my mindset when analyzing a team I happen to love more than oxygen. I want more than anything to join in all the ‘I believe’ and ‘doesn’t this feel like ‘93’ talk but I have this glaring character trait, where I tend to be skeptical about them.

It’s a combination of an interest in being as objective as possible – I am trying to make a living at this after all – and the simple fact I have gotten my hopes up many a time in all kinds of sports, only to wind up really miserable.

Good lord, I’m a Roughrider fan for cryin’ out loud.

Because of this I have a habit of seeing all the things that can go wrong, no matter how much I may want to ignore them. And so, with that, I give you:

Day 4 – Slooooow down parade planners.

At this point in the 2010 playoffs, no one can deny the level of play coming from the Montreal Canadiéns. From an unconscious goaltender to a battered blueline of shot-blocking crazy people to a group of forwards who score WHENEVER the situation calls for it, these Habs look poised to continue this run right into the Stanley Cup Finals.

The President’s Trophy winner? Gone. Defending champs? An after thought.

Mike Cammalleri, Josh Gorges, Jaro Halak? On a mission.

What a fantastic story this team has become. They’ve overcome all kinds of odds against them and have built a bond, which seems unbreakable by any outside force. Let’s face it, everything is aligning perfectly for them to win that 25th Stanley Cup and it’s really hard to imagine anything – or anyone – standing in their way anymore.

Of course, the only problem with all that is it’s the EXACT same feeling every Flyers fan on earth is having and every player in that Philly dressing room believes just as strongly as any Hab that they are meant to win it all.

This team of destiny nonsense is absolutely everywhere and it makes me want to punch somebody in the larynx. Guess what folks? Right now there are four teams left and four teams’ fan bases believing they are destined to raise the Cup.

And every year it’s the same, no matter who makes it this far, we always hear that same term. Well, with all due respect, if there actually is some hidden power out there controlling our fate, it doesn’t give the smallest s#!t who wins a North American hockey trophy and those who believe different really need to lay down for a bit.

The Flyers beat Marty Brodeur and a VERY potent team from New Jersey before coming back from down three to topple the Bruins. Just because the Devils series only went five shouldn’t mean their story has any less drama.

Two of my best friends in the world are MASSIVE Philly fans and they have never seen their team win. I talked to one of them tonight and guess what? He really believes there is something special about his group this year and feels there is a bond in that room strong enough to take them to the top.

Sound familiar?

The Montreal Canadiéns are not in the Eastern Conference final because the hockey gods want them to be. The Philadelphia Flyers are not in the same series because it was meant to happen that way.

The conference’s seventh and eighth seeds will play for all the Eastern marbles because they have performed well enough to do so. Any claim of less is an absolute insult to the athletes who have accomplished it.

What worries me now as a Habs fan is that all the talk is going about the Canadiéns. Hardly anyone – aside from maybe Eklund but he LOVES the Flyers – will be talking about this Philly story and how great they are playing. I really get the feeling some fans and media will be overlooking the Orange and Black because it would be such a let down for Montreal to lose at this point, people will almost dismiss its possibility entirely.

Well not this writer.

I think if the Habs play with the same grit and fire they have had all post season AND land the same timely breaks they have enjoyed from time to time, they will come out on top. But unfortunately I’m just as positive the same applies for Philly.

I have absolutely no clue which of these teams will win the East but I do know one thing for sure. This is going to be the toughest series yet.

For both clubs.

Just one last question.

Posted in Hal Gill, Jacques Martin, Maxime Lapierre, Montreal Canadiens, NHL on May 13, 2010 by Scott Schmidt

Now that the Montreal Canadiéns have knocked off the President’s Trophy winner and defending Stanley Cup Champions, ousting the game’s two brightest stars in the process, I think it’s safe to say the ‘flying under the radar’ technique is pretty much done for these playoffs.
Of course, that would be a factual statement even if another so-called powerhouse had been waiting in the conference final, but seeing as how the Habs are facing either the sixth or seventh seed next round, their new persona is just going to be magnified.

Make no mistake, no matter who wins game seven between the Flyers and Bruins, the media – especially north of the border – will name the Canadiéns the favourite. The percentage of experts who pick the Habs to win the East will far outweigh those who believe differently and what was originally deemed so improbable it should have been impossible will now shift to a complete expectation of victory.

If you ask me, this couldn’t be better news. As far as who the experts side with, there couldn’t be a more meaningless tipping of the scales, no matter which direction they sway. But I was sure the notion that somehow this run was based on luck was officially labeled a joke after game two of round two, and the quicker every highlight show’s feature segments stop being about how unbelievably fluky this all is, the better.

I’m not saying they haven’t been the underdog, I’m just saying you can’t accomplish what this group has already accomplished, without deserving every ounce of it. And deserve it they have.

But before I too officially stop inquiring into this group’s capabilities of making the conference final and begin to look at the them as the serious contender they clearly are, I just have to explore one quick question, one final time.

How in the flying f@#k did they do this?

Seriously. I’m not kidding around here. I’ve had 16-straight disappointing finishes to show me what I can come to expect from this franchise and the way this new group played down the stretch, I thought the streak would continue to swell with ease.

Entering the playoffs I called the Habs the softest team in the league and at the time I wasn’t exactly lying. They looked like they didn’t much care about the task at hand and when a club with the list of undersized players as long as the Habs decides to stop trying, the result is a whole lot of time laying on their asses, wondering what the hell hit them.

I have recorded posts on this site where I chastise players like Hal Gill for being utterly useless. I’ve got entire blogs focused on all the horrible decisions I witnessed Jacques Martin make behind the bench. And hell, I’ve even publicly admitted pure shame to having guys like Maxim Lapiérre on this team based on him arriving to play this season with all of the pesky, dirty attributes he had the year before but missing everything else. And a player who contributes nothing but bad penalties, a reputation for diving and a nature for backing away from fights, without putting the puck in the net from time to time and dishing out the occasional hit, almost always scores the permanent label of whiny little ‘female dog.’

And when a truckload of new players came into the organization last season, it’s not that I didn’t recognize their capabilities but I was pretty sure they would need to get at least this first season out of the way before they really did anything. Then the year started and they resembled the exact club I was expecting.

Signs of a good team existed but the inconsistencies were almost overwhelming. Whenever things started to go well and fans started to feel a little comfortable with their new roster, injuries and sloppy play would take over and a skid would commence. The Olympic break allowed some of the injuries to heal up and when games resumed, the Habs exploded out of the gate, leaving those of us who write about them discussing the club with that evil comfort level again.

With six games left, the boys needed only a few points to secure the sixth seed in the East and a date with the Sabres, a team most of us thought would be the Habs’ best shot at seeing the second round.

Then that soft bunch of don’t-seem-to-give-a-crappers showed back up and played in a way that almost made you wish they wouldn’t make the playoffs just to save the embarrassment of a sweep. They looked so awful in that final week and a half that I – and every other member of the media – figured the Caps would stomp the boys so badly, they might only need three games to rid the post season of Les not-so-Glorieux.

But the Habs did make it. They didn’t get swept. And they have shown so much heart and determination that I – and hopefully every other skeptic ­– am completely ashamed of my earlier statements about this group.

So what exactly happened? Unfortunately, I don’t think anyone outside their dressing room will even be able to make an educated guess.

And maybe we’ll never truly know exactly what transpired to turn this group into an absolute beast basically overnight, but one thing is for sure, this time there figures to be zero sign of Mr. Hyde.

Gill isn’t just useful he’s apparently the best shutdown D-man on earth. Martin has outcoached two of the game’s apparent bests for the past month and he did it in a landslide. Lapiérre isn’t just putting the puck in the net or throwing an occasional hit, he’s potting game winners and taking the opposition’s heads off.

Add in a superstar winger with a dozen goals, an unconscious goaltender and a nucleus of proven winners who know just what it takes to win it all and you have yourself a delicious recipe for success.

How they’ve done this no longer matters and what they do next is all anyone cares about. All we are supposed to do is enjoy the ride.

So, no more questions.

I bet I can make you smile.

Posted in Bob Gainey, Montreal Canadiens, NHL, Pittsburgh Penguins, PK Subban, Sidney Crosby on May 12, 2010 by Scott Schmidt

So every writer and every blogger with any interest in hockey – let alone Les Canadiéns – will be pouring their thoughts and/or opinions onto cyber pages all over the continent this morning, regarding tonight’s so-called improbable game seven.

But seeing as I not only love being different than the rest but also figure any predictions I make will just result in miserable karma for my boys, I’ve decided to focus day No. 2 of All Habs, All the Time on something every Montreal fan will be smiling about in their beds this evening, no matter the final score.

Looking back at game six, what does it say when the youngest player on both teams, with less than 10 games experience, shows up to a playoff elimination game against the defending champions, in the craziest hockey arena on earth, lands the world’s best player as his assignment, plays more minutes than any other player in the building, finishes plus-2 AND helps his team force the second ridiculously amazing game seven in a two-week span?

Well here’s what it says to me:

1 – Holy crap.

2 – A 20-year-old with a bright future spending almost an entire season under the tutelage of the AHL coach of the year is more than just a really, really, really good idea.

3 – Trevor Timmons’ and Bob Gainey’s legacies will be just fine, despite the year-and-a-half of uneducated bitching from certain fans, who should switch to blue and white teams, where knowing nothing isn’t just accepted, it’s honoured.

4 – No. 76 and No. 79 will be in charge of a power play that No. 13 plays on for a REALLY long time. Just think about that for a couple of seconds. Montreal has had either the best or second best PP in the league three of the last four years, and the ONLY constant is that Russian mute, who’s just about ready to play through a torn ACL. I wonder where they’ll rank next season?

5 – Either Cindy Crosby’s two whole shots on goal after the rookie took over his coverage was a symptom of food poisoning, or a certain all-offensive defenseman might just know a thing or two about shutting down elite players.

6 – Starting in about 13 years, several French-Canadian youngsters will have to explain to high school bullies why their first name is Pernell.

7 – If your charisma and flare matches your talent level, you can become a legend in Montreal in 29 minutes and 11 seconds.

8 – If your talent matches your charisma and flare, you can earn the complete respect of a team of veterans in the exact same time frame.

9 – A kid with a two-week NHL career can single-handedly make it impossible for people to hate the franchise that has already chucked it right in their face 24 glorious times. Now they have someone EVERYONE loves. Go ahead, try saying you dislike a single thing about this kid without involuntarily smacking your own face.

10 – It won’t be too long before Drew Doughty has constant Norris competition. And, incidentally, not long before Team Canada relives Coffey and Bourque.

11 – I will actually live to see a future captain of the Montreal Canadiéns go his entire career without hearing a single word about not being fluent in French.

12 – In the past 43 years, I’m positive there has never been a time when Leafs fans have hated their lives more than they do right now, as two Toronto boys quickly become the most popular people in Montreal.

13 – Your name needs not be Savard to own a gorgeous spin-o-rama.

14 – The Montreal Canadiéns officially have the funniest dressing room in sports. In two years or less, it will just be horrendous to be a rookie in there.

15 – PK Subban is one of the best blueline prospects on earth and he is going to play for the team I’ve loved for my whole life with a type of obsession that has destroyed more than one relationship/friendship/job/ankle/television, and he’s going to play there for a very long time.

Tell me you’re not smiling.

Enjoy game seven hockey fans! Here’s to my aching guts!