Lightning Strikes Six Times as Canadiens Disappoint
Game 3 will be characterized by the words “one win”. One win was all the Habs needed to steal a game in the series and stay alive. After tonight’s performance, one win is all the Tampa Bay Lightning need to repeat as Stanley Cup champions. So, what happened? Let’s hop into this and find out.
Right off the bat, you couldn’t have asked for a worse start – two goals in four minutes. These were things that were happening at my Peewee games. I’m gonna be honest after the first five minutes I gave up believing the Habs had a chance. I mean come on; two goals in the first four minutes?
In saying that, the tempo slowed down and Montreal seemed to be gaining their composure back, as well as some momentum. Halfway through the first period, Phillip Danault takes advantage of a play where David Savard is left scrambling back to get on D. With Savard backchecking and out of position, Danault facilitates a two-on-one against Mikhail Sergachev.
Sergachev was not sure who to watch, so he ended up just staying stagnant in front of Vasilevskiy. The Habs number one center was able to see this and unleashed a beautiful snapshot, which careened off the post, beating Vasilevskiy up top. Watching that goal scored by Danault, I finally thought that the Tampa goaltender was human after all.
With that goal in the bag, it seemed the Canadiens were right back in it, destined to take a pivotal game three. Then the second period started. What happened in the second period was just disgraceful, and was some of the worst hockey I have seen the Habs play in a while. Sloppy, no confidence, dejected, tired; all words that came to my mind watching the second period.
Don’t get it twisted, I’m not hating on the Canadiens just because I am covering the finals and I have to write about what happened. The truth is it pains me to write this because this is the team I’ve grown up watching since I was seven years old. This is the team that taught me about legends such as Maurice Richard, Howie Morenz, Dickie Moore, Jean Beliveau, and Gump Worsley.
This team was a topic of discussion in my fourth-grade essay when my teacher asked us what our goal in life was ( I said playing in front of my family for the Montreal Canadiens). I have so much love for the Habs, and reaching the Stanley Cup Finals in itself was amazing, but what I saw in that second period was not a team that looked hungry for a cup.
Rather, what I saw was a team that looked confused, frustrated, and plain-right finished with this series. It’s very easy for me to sit here, in my comfortable chair in my bedroom, talking shit about what the Canadiens players should have and could have done. Having played hockey myself (not professionally, but I did score 6 goals in Bantam CC, so you could say I made it) I know how hard of a game it is. I’m not trying to sit here and pretend like I know what’s best for the Habs.
The truth is, after this game, I have no idea what the Canadiens should do heading forward. Looking at the bench I saw a lot of slouched heads, frustrated faces, and players who looked out of it. Not even Carey Price, this team’s lord, and savior could get his game together, which cost us big time.
Knowing that Price was the only reason this team was even in the finals, everyone knew he was the focal point of the series. Tampa is a powerhouse, so if the Canadiens had any chance of defeating the former Stanley Cup champions, they needed their goalie to be on his game. Sadly, this hasn’t been the case.
Price has been off his game this whole series. I didn’t want to say anything the first two games, as I believed a lot of the goals he let in weren’t his fault. Tonight though, I saw a goalie in net who looked unsure of himself. The Tampa Bay Lightning must have seen this as well because they ate him alive.
The Anahim Lake, B.C native has been nothing short of stellar these playoffs, except for this series. During the first three rounds of the playoffs, Price held a .935 save percentage, averaged out through the three series. Those are numbers that get you in the Hall of Fame. In this series, his save percentage is a measly .835. That gets you sent down to the minors.
Price isn’t the only Canadiens player who doesn’t look confident in his play. Cole Caufield, the rookie sensation out of Wisconsin (NCAA), doesn’t look like he is too sure of himself either. There was an instance in the second period where he was speeding down the wing, winding up a slapshot, when suddenly, he just decided to turn back to try and pass but ended up falling and turning it over.
Seeing as he is a rookie, I would understand if maybe he was nervous because of the atmosphere surrounding the Stanley Cup Finals, but he is such a talented player that it is hard not to want him to do more with his skillset. The same goes for Josh Anderson, who is immensely talented but seems to be holding back.
When it mattered most, the Canadiens didn’t show up. If you ask the players, I’m sure they’ll tell you the same thing. Instead of focusing on the negative though, let’s look at some positives and at what the Canadiens could do slowly climb back into this series.
Firstly, the Canadiens should be proud that they scored three goals on Andrei Vasilevskiy. That in itself is a major accomplishment. The Canadiens did play well during certain parts of the game, controlling the puck well in the offensive zone and dominating Tampa on the forecheck. If they just take it one shift at a time, I really do believe they can win the next game.
Another key factor that would help the Canadiens is to not play from behind. With Tampa’s offensive arsenal, it’s hard not to allow goals. Saying this, the Canadiens have the defensive schemes to pull it off, so implement them, play hard man-on-man coverage, and try to strike first as quickly as possible.
Lastly, the Canadiens need to get together, sit down in the video room, and watch the Rocket Richard movie, or some celebration tapes from Canadiens Stanley Cup wins of the past. Watch something to try and get the blood flowing and pump up the team. As I said earlier, I’m not too sure what they need, but all I know is I’m sending good vibes their way.
Dropping the Mike on ya!