Effectively… What do we now have right here?
That fourth-place group from the ultra-weak Canadian Division that was going to get swept by the Vegas Golden Knights?
Ya, they’re heading residence with home-ice benefit after profitable Recreation 2 by a 3-2 rating, proving to the hockey world that, sure, the Montreal Canadiens can play with the Golden Knights.
“These individuals who mentioned we have been going to brush,” dismissed Vegas head coach Peter DeBoer, “are the identical individuals who mentioned that Colorado was going to brush us.”
One in every of hockey’s extra correct quips has at all times been, “A collection doesn’t begin till the street group wins a recreation.”
On Tuesday night in Las Vegas this collection received whittled all the way down to a best-of-five, with the Canadiens stealing home-ice benefit. All of which doesn’t shock the veteran Golden Knights coach.
“You don’t get to the Remaining 4 with out realizing that that is going to be a battle,” DeBoer mentioned post-game. “If it takes additional time and 7 video games, then it takes additional time and 7 video games. You simply need to be sure to transfer on.
“We knew this wasn’t going to be simple — we now have an amazing quantity of respect for his or her hockey group. They’ve overwhelmed two superb groups to get right here, and gained a variety of video games,” he concluded. “We’re in a greater spot than we have been final collection after two video games (down 2-0 to Colorado). We’ll go into Montreal and look to win a recreation.”
A development that emerged by way of the opening two contests in Sin Metropolis had the Canadiens dominating the early minutes of each video games. In Recreation 1, Marc-Andre Fleury held the fort till his skaters discovered their legs.
In Recreation 2, nevertheless, it was 2-0 after 20 minutes, and the Habs’ defensive clog-up-the-middle recreation was on show for the ultimate 40.
“It’s been a subject of dialog right here for a short time. Final collection too,” admitted defenceman Alex Pietrangelo, who had each Vegas targets — the primary two-goal playoff recreation of his distinguished profession. “It’s one thing we now have to repair. Not ok firstly, within the first interval. Not ok firstly.”
“For no matter purpose our begins within the playoffs haven’t been ok,” added captain Mark Stone. “We’ve been burnt earlier than, we have been burnt once more tonight.”
To make issues worse, Montreal is that group you merely can’t fall behind. They’re masterful with the lead, with opportunistic forwards like Paul Byron who get sprung for breaks when the trailing group will get too aggressive offensively. Byron scored the third aim when he evaded a Fleury poke verify, a transfer the Vegas goaler instantly wished to take again.
“I regretted that as quickly as I did it,” Fleury confirmed. “I made up my thoughts too early. He reduce to the center early, and it was too distant. I shouldn’t have finished that.”
It was that third aim that cemented this recreation for Montreal, despite the fact that Pietrangelo introduced his group again to inside one off a pleasant faceoff play with simply over 5 minutes to play.
The Habs, nevertheless, are most comfy when defending a lead. Their impartial zone play eats potential comebacks like corn beef sandwiches, their burly, stick-wielding defencemen clearing the slot like a cop on Crescent Road.
Vegas ended up with 31 pictures, however there have been some rating results to that. The Habs merely defended for the ultimate 20 minutes, and regarded very comfy doing so.
“The final two intervals we performed fairly nicely,” Stone surmised. “Chasing the sport isn’t a straightforward job in opposition to anyone, however these guys play a very good group recreation once they get the lead.
“They clog it up fairly good.”
That is the Habs recreation plan, simply because it was for the ’90s New Jersey Devils or Dallas Stars: get a lead, then drive the joy issue to subterranean ranges. All these groups have been enjoyable to observe once they fell behind — once they needed to hustle up some offence.
However like Darryl Sutter’s Los Angeles Kings, who had Jonathan Fast in his prime, a 2-0 lead for Carey Worth is cash, and the Habs are completely happy to lock it down after that.
“I’m undecided we received locked down tonight,” DeBoer disagreed. “We generated sufficient possibilities to scratch our manner again into that recreation. I don’t suppose it was a case of us getting locked down as soon as we fell behind. We generated some attractiveness within the final 40 minutes.”
They might have, however the coach of a Vegas group is aware of all too nicely, there is no such thing as a cash in falling behind the Montreal Canadiens.
The chances, they only aren’t going to pay.