Overtime!: April 2010
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Friday, April 30, 2010

2010 Stanley Cup Playoffs: David vs Goliath II.

The Montreal Canadiens and Jaroslav Halak had another fantastic game in store Wednesday as they defeated the Washington Capitals by the score of 2-1 to win this Eastern conference first round best of seven series by four games to three.

Once again this year, Alexander Ovechkin with all his ''hype'' and individual efforts failed miserably during the playoffs.

The Canadiens had very little time to celebrate. Tonight, they open their second round with the defending champions Pittsburgh Penguins. Another impossible task at first glance.

The Penguins are more stable defensively and plays a better collective game. They represent a difficult challenge for the Canadiens who only managed to win once in four regular season games this season. Jaroslav Halak will have to bring a few more miracle saves in his suitcases to keep his team in the hunt.

Once again, I will be very impressed should the Canadiens wins more than one game in this series. I think that Pittsburgh has the tools to eliminate the Habs quickly and should win this one in five games.

Besides Halak, the only good news for Montreal is the fact that they feel like they have nothing to lose. A ton of unnecessary pressure should be off their backs, a good thing with such a difficult series ahead.

David vs Goliath II opens tonight in Pittsburgh.

(Picture: Sidney Crosby, Getty Images.)

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Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Capitals-Canadiens: A Seventh Game Will Be Necessary.

For Game Six Monday evening at the Bell centre, the Montreal Canadiens' goaltender Jaroslav Halak elevated his game to the likes of Patrick Roy, Jose Theodore and Ken Dryden as he made a total of 53 saves in a 4-1 victory over the Washington Capitals.

Those 53 saves constitute nothing less than the 3rd best performance by a goaltender in any playoff game in the club's history. Halak was sensational from start to finish, frustrating the Capitals forwards on many occasions. His only flaw came with merely five minutes to play.

On the offensive side, the Canadiens struck early once again as Michael Cammalleri scored two quick goals inside a two minute span halfway into the first period. The score remained unchanged until Maxim Lapierre gave the Habs a 3-0 lead halfway into the third frame. Tomas Plekanec completed the score for the home team in an empty net.

The series is now tied at 3 games apiece and a seventh game is required.

The Canadiens will feel like they have nothing to lose while the Capitals will probably feel a ton of pressure come game time. The Canadiens should try to lit the lamp early on the Capitals once again. The confidence level of the Capitals could drop dramatically should this scenario repeats once again.

Game Seven is scheduled for Wednesday and it should be a good one. Be there or be square!

(Picture: Jaroslav Halak and Hal Gill. Canadian Press.)

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Sunday, April 25, 2010

NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs: Montreal Is Still Alive.

Before the start of the series between the Montreal Canadiens and the Washington Capitals, I said that I would be impressed should the Canadiens wins more than a single game. Now I have to admit that I am impressed by the team's resilience.

Friday, the Canadiens and Jaroslav Halak have won Game Five of the series by the score of 2-1. Michael Cammalleri scored only 1:30 into the first frame and Travis Moen doubled the Habs' lead five minutes later. Alex Ovechkin was the lone scorer for Washington in this one.

The intensity deployed by the Canadiens players during the entirety of this Game Five was the most surprising fact in my opinion. I thought that a majority of players in this dressing room would quit in front of the task at hand. But I was obviously wrong on this one.

As for goaltender Jaroslav Halak, he once again proved that this whole season -and the No 1 spot- belongs to him. Head coach Jacques Martin did gave a shot at Carey Price earlier in the series, but without positive results.

Finally, I cannot go without a word about Caps' head coach Bruce Boudreau.

In the final moments of Game Five and down 1-2, the Capitals went all-in and called goaltender Simeon Varlamov to the bench in favor of a sixth player. As Varlamov was skating towards the bench, a loose puck was dangerously gliding towards the empty net. The goaltender decided to skate back towards his net to block the loose puck, unaware that the extra attacker was already skating on the ice. A mistake that did not went unnoticed and costed a minor penalty.

The goaltender's decision angered the Caps' head coach. Behind the players' bench, Bruce Boudreau exploded and clearly shouted: ''Stupid f**k!''.

This is simply another case of lack of class shown by the Capitals. We all remember Ovechkin's ice shower on a six year old kid wearing a Canadiens uniform moments before Game Four. Right after this game, I restrained myself from writing an article intitled: ''Ovechkin, talented but classless.'' But I held it to myself and wanted for the series to end before writing about the incident.

Does Bruce Boudreau really thinks that Simeon Varlamov is a stupid f**k? Was he keeping this for himself all this time?

Hmmm. Bruce, who exactly is the stupid f**k now?

Game Six will be played at the Bell centre on Monday. The Canadiens will try to break a six-game losing streak at home and force a seventh game.

(Picture: Bruce Boudreau and Alex Ovechkin, Canadian Press.)

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Thursday, April 22, 2010

2010 Stanley Cup Playoffs: Montreal Trips Once More.

Wednesday, Game Four of the Eastern conference quarterfinal between the Montreal Canadiens and the Washington Capitals was disputed at the Bell centre.

Down 1-2 in the series, the Canadiens desperatly needed a victory and head coach Jacques Martin sent Carey Price in net. But the goalie change did not hold off the Capitals and Alexander Ovechkin.

The Canadiens dominated the second period but faced very good opposition from goaltender Simeon Varlamov who was sensational. Instead of being up by a couple of goals, the Canadiens allowed a shorthanded goal with only a couple of seconds to go to the second period. A goal that seemed to stun the Canadiens' skaters. Both teams were tied at 2 after two periods of play.

Alexander Ovechkin broke the tie with a brillant wrist shot and the Capitals never looked back. Ovechkin finished the game with two goals and an assist.

The series' fifth game will be disputed in Washington. The Canadiens now have their backs against the wall. One more loss and their 2009-2010 season will be history.

Final score: Washington Capitals 6 - Montreal Canadiens 3 (Washington leads the series by 3-1.)

(Picture: Alexander Ovechkin, Canadian Press.)

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Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Two Painful Losses For The Canadiens.

The series between the Washington Capitals and the Montreal Canadiens is a very entertaining one this far.

After winning the first game of the series, the Canadiens saw the Capitals come back from a 1-4 deficit during game two to eventually win by the score of 6-5 during extra time. A pivotal game in this series tied then at one game apiece.

The third game of the series was a continuation of game two as the Capitals struck four times during the second period alone to run away with a 5-1 victory at the Bell centre. After being held in check during game one, Alexander Ovechkin elevated his game and scored two big goals that seemed to completely stun the Canadiens.

Capitals' head coach, Bruce Boudreau, also made a timely goaltender change during game two. That substitution marked a pivotal point in the series. Jose Theodore was pulled by his coach and replaced by Simeon Varlamov after allowing two quick goals to the Canadiens.

On Montreal's side, Jaroslav Halak was unable to hold off the Capitals during game two and three and was eventually replaced by Carey Price after allowing three goals in game three. But unlike Saturday evening, the Canadiens did not rally back after the goalie change.

A question remains: Who will start in net for Montreal in game four?

The Canadiens desperatly needs to win game four to stay in pace with the Capitals.

Game 2: Washington Capitals 6 - Montreal Canadiens 5 (overtime)
Game 3: Washington Capitals 5 - Montreal Canadiens 1 (Washington leads the series by 2-1.)

(Picture: Alexander Ovechkin, Canadian Press.)

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Friday, April 16, 2010

Dramatic Overtime Victory For The Montreal Canadiens.

The Montreal Canadiens could not ask for a better result during game one of the series opposing them to the Washington Capitals. Tomas Plekanec closed the deal in overtime with a precise shot that goaltender Jose Theodore could not handle.

The Capitals did dominate the play early on as they outshot Montreal 19-7 during the first period. But goaltender Jaroslav Halak stood tall and allowed his team to go back to the locker room with a 1-1 tie. During that first period, Michael Cammalleri opened the score during a man advantage while Joe Corvo tied the game at 1 apiece late in the first frame.

The game momentum shifted during the second period as Montreal applied more pressure on Washington's defense with an effective fore checking. But without any tangible result, both teams went back to their rooms after two periods in a 1-1 tie.

The Capitals took advantage of a Canadiens' defensive collapse to take the lead by a goal during the first minute of the third period. Nicklas Backstrom did not miss his chance and scored his first goal of the series. But Scott Gomez tied the game at 2 when he completed a great passing play from Brian Gionta and Benoit Pouliot.

The Canadiens continued to apply pressure on their opponents in overtime until Tomas Plekanec scored the ultimate goal.

It was a different story for Alexander Ovechkin. The star forward was held in check by the Canadiens defense, blocking every shot from the russian star. Ovechkin finished the game without registering any shot on goal during game one.

The Canadiens' head coach Jacques Martin has to be very satisfied with the effort given by his players. The whole team pushed in the same direction, something we haven't seen very often this season.

Both teams will face again Saturday in Washington. The pressure of winning is on the Capitals' shoulders for game two of the series.

Final score: Montreal Canadiens 3 - Washington Capitals 2 (overtime) (Montreal leads the series by 1-0.)

(Picture: Tomas Plekanec, Canadian Press.)

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Monday, April 12, 2010

Montreal Canadiens: Qualified for the playoffs.

Yes, the Montreal Canadiens will be a part of the 2010 Stanley Cup playoffs. The club barely managed to finish in eight place and clinch the last available spot.

The Canadiens earned a point during the last game of the regular season. That lone point officially clinched their berth in the spring dance. In a press conference given two days ago, head coach Jacques Martin seemed satisfied of the fact that he managed to pull his team in the playoffs.

For the Montreal Canadiens fans in general and for myself, the way that the team performed during the last four games of the regular season is just another case of history repeating. We have seen this movie too many times in the last fifteen years and we are sick of it. This year, even the hardcore Canadiens fans look depressed and I bet that none of them won't bet 2$ on the bleu-blanc-rouge to win the cup.

The players in this club are relying on the brillance of their goaltender while giving the strict minimum in the effort department. Players are waiting until their backs are against the wall to give a respectable effort on the ice. That kind of behaviour is simply sickening me.

Now, the Montreal Canadiens will face-off with the Washington Capitals in the first round. With such a powerful attack, we cannot hope for any happy ending for the Canadiens. Alexander Ovechkin, Alexander Semin, Nicklas Backstrom and company should have no problem with the Canadiens' defense in this one. And to top it all, former Canadiens' goalie Jose Theodore won't want to miss the oppotunity to humiliate his former team.

I predict an easy victory in five games for the Capitals in this series. I will be impressed if the Canadiens wins more than a single game.

(Picture: Jaroslav Halak and Jose Theodore.)

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Sunday, April 04, 2010

Jaroslav Halak: Two Consecutive Blanks Pulls Habs Up.

The Montreal Canadiens have to thank Jaroslav Halak for their sixth place in the standings. The goaltender has registered two consecutive shutouts this week.

The first one, Friday in a 1-0 victory over the Philadelphia Flyers, it was everything but pretty. Halak saved the day for his team on numerous occasions, making the right move and taking the right decision each and every time.

Yesterday, the Buffalo Sabres were unable to generate any serious threat and the Canadiens were able to close the deal this time, good for a 3-0 victory.

Since the return of the Olympic break, it became easy for head coach Jacques Martin on who to put in net for an important game. Jaroslav Halak is winning on a regular basis while Carey Price has all kinds of problems winning a single game.

The better example of this came last week when the Buffalo Sabres came back from a 0-2 deficit with under two minutes to go. Carey Price was perfect until that point but somehow, he could not close the deal.

With just a handful of games to this regular season, the Canadiens stand are in sixth place, courtesy of Jaroslav Halak.

(Picture: Canadian Press.)

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Thursday, April 01, 2010

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