What the Puck: Losing the Stanley Cup is bittersweet for Habs fans

We’ve to be pleased about what this crew gave us: two months of playoff hockey for the primary time since 1993.

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So shut and but up to now.

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That outdated war-horse of an aphorism completely encapsulates the sentiments of the Canadiens and their followers in the present day. Montreal was three wins away from the Stanley Cup. Nearer than they’ve been in 28 years and the actual rub is none of us has any concept after they’ll be that shut once more.

However watching that recreation Wednesday night time, the Habs additionally appeared so distant from the Nationwide Hockey League’s final trophy. They solely misplaced by one objective, however they appeared like a crew that was by no means going to attain one other objective of their life. As soon as once more, they have been caught within the mud within the first, utterly dominated by the Tampa Bay Lightning. Their energy play was past dangerous. They may barely get out of their very own zone with the person benefit.

They received shut-out within the largest recreation of the yr, a very horrible solution to exit for a crew that so typically has had issue scoring targets in huge video games within the playoffs. Carey Worth was very good, however his teammates couldn’t return the favour by placing the puck within the web. The place have you ever seen that movie earlier than?

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The higher crew received. There’s a cause the Lightning are repeat champs. There aren’t any weak hyperlinks on this crew.

It was a bittersweet second. In the event you’re a fan, you don’t like shedding and also you particularly don’t like shedding within the remaining. But we now have to be so grateful for what this crew gave us: two months of playoff hockey for the primary time since 1993. A complete technology of Habs followers have by no means skilled that.

And so they did it in opposition to all odds. They barely scraped into the post-season and for the second half of the season appeared like one of many weaker groups in rivalry. The Leafs have been supposed to scrub the ground with them and so they have been … till they weren’t. Then the Good Guys swept the Winnipeg Jets, who have been meant to be a formidable opponent.

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Then got here essentially the most unbelievable victory of all of them, versus the Vegas Golden Knights. Vegas had simply knocked off the Colorado Avalanche, deemed to be favourites, and the Habs smothered their huge scorers. However Tampa Bay merely was an excessive amount of to deal with for this Cinderella crew.

They confirmed unimaginable coronary heart, successful as a crew, with no celebrity skaters. There have been so many heroes, beginning with Carey Worth. With out the taciturn masked man, they’re not anyplace close to the ultimate. However he was proper when he stated he didn’t play nicely sufficient at the beginning of the Tampa sequence. That cuts to the guts of the problem that also canines this crew. With out Worth in Saint Carey mode, they will’t win. That has to alter.

Probably the most thrilling factor about this inspirational run was the stellar play of the children Nick Suzuki and Cole Caufield. They aren’t the way forward for this crew — they’re the current and it’s extremely cool to start out salivating now about the potential for spending a complete season watching them work their magic collectively, hopefully on a line with Josh Anderson.

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One darkish cloud is that the opposite star child, Jesperi Kotkaniemi, was sitting within the press field for the final couple of video games of the playoffs. Solely Suzuki scored extra targets than him in these playoffs however at crunch time, the teaching workers nonetheless don’t imagine in Kotkaniemi. Disturbing.

There are huge selections coming. Presumably Tomas Tatar is gone. Think about one of many crew’s main scorers is rarely known as in when his crew isn’t scoring. Overlook making it again to the ultimate: can this crew make the playoffs subsequent season?

It received’t be simple in a division with Tampa, Toronto, Boston, Florida and Ottawa. I hate to be the prophet of doom — okay I sort of prefer it — however the Habs completed 18th within the league this yr and twenty fourth final season. Plus some key gamers are leaving the constructing this summer time.

However that dialogue is for one more day. In the present day let’s simply look again on the magic of the previous two months. Let’s savour all the enjoyment these guys introduced us after one of many tougher years of our lives. Nikita Kucherov can snigger all he likes at Montreal followers however these have been stunning moments.

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The night time the CH received the sequence in OT in opposition to Vegas was an extremely shifting second and I received’t quickly forgot sitting in a yard within the Monkland Village listening to cheers ringing out all through N.D.G. Ditto for Monday night time’s additional time win with that spectacular Anderson objective. Driving via downtown with horns honking and followers cheering. Magic.

It makes us do not forget that sports activities can unify a individuals. We’re one. We’re Habs followers. And there’s an essential life lesson on this underdog playoff run.

Don’t ever hand over. Issues look mighty bleak — like if you’re down 3-1 to the Leafs — however if you happen to imagine in your self, something actually is feasible.

bkelly@postmedia.com

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