The Montreal Canadiens have made fools of us all, worshippers of a false idol, suckers swindled by snake oil salesmen. Jaroslav Halak and his Habs bested the Washington Capitals in these conference quarterfinals, and we now stare down the long, lonely hallway of the offseason.
Anger, despair, confusion; I know you’re feeling one of these. I am, too.
But let’s– just for a moment– try to fill the night with humility. The Montreal Canadiens are a wickedly savvy team, and they slayed the dragon tonight. Congratulations to the opponent.
And let us feel gratitude, too. Despite what you think of the last seven games (and you’re not alone), we must stand in admiration of the Capitals’ effort this season. They did the impossible so often, an average game became an aberration. For every high five and every chest bump, the human contact we direly miss tonight, we thank them.
So go shave, my friends. We’ll talk again soon.
The Washington Capitals have forgotten how to score. Except for Eric Fehr’s half-forgotten memory of a goal in the third period, the high-scoring Caps were completely impotent in their pathetic 4-1 loss to the Canadiens. You can chalk it up to Jaroslav Halak’s herculean 53-save night, the brownian motion of the Caps’ powerplay, or the ire of hockey gods at my shaving– it doesn’t matter. The Caps were found wanting in every metric.
We usually dedicate the segment of the game recap to highlights, but I can recall none tonight. This game was a 60-minute parade of sadness: the white team buzzing about sending ineffectual lobs at the net for King Kong Halak to swat casually. While the hockey tastemakers may spend the night picking players worthy of scorn, we’re going to cast a wide net. The whole of the Capitals roster failed to play up to level of the Habs.
Boo freaking hoo.
For the first 10 minutes of tonight’s potentially series-ending contest, the Washington Capitals went through the motions and were subsequently dominated in every facet of the game by the Montreal Canadiens. It wasn’t until our once-lost-but-now-found Russian Supernova, Alex Semin, made one of the most selfless plays of his NHL career with 11:20 left in the first period that the Capitals finally woke up and started playing hard. But by then it was too late. Mike Cammalleri’s wicked blast from the circles at 1:30 made it 1-0. Then five and a half minutes later, after a terrible defensive breakdown in front of the net, Travis Moen went short-side on Varly and scored his first goal of the series, the eventual game-winner. Despite peppering Jaroslav Halak with 15 medium range shots in the first frame (and 38 overall), the Capitals had way too many defensive breakdowns. And as Brendan Morrison so accurately surmised: “We made too many glaring mistakes.”
The Capitals lose to the Habs 2-1. Let’s make some excuses:
How tough are hockey players? After taking a stick to the mush in the first period, Eric Belanger ripped his own tooth out on the bench and then proceeded to take the next face-off. That’s insane. The AP furthers the legend:
Belanger says Saturday he “felt my teeth shatter, right away,” when Canadiens defenseman Marc-Andre Bergeron’s stick hit him in the mouth in the first period of Montreal’s 2-1 victory at Washington in Game 5 of their playoff series Friday night.
Belanger needed some serious dental work at the arena, getting exposed tooth roots trimmed — then returned to the ice midway through the third period.
Explains Belanger: “I knew I was in trouble, but what are you going to do? It’s the playoffs.”
He expects to play in Game 6 at Montreal on Monday.
In summary, Belanger lost 7 or 8 teeth, including the one he ripped out himself.
Here’s the video:
Tonight, the Montreal Canadiens needed to respond. After being taken to the woodshed Monday night, it was time for the Habs to show the Eastern Conference’s best team their mettle. Instead, the highest scoring team in the NHL showed Montreal the formula on how they won over 50 games in the Regular Season: Cruise through 40 minutes of play and then turn it on in the third. The result? The Capitals win an error-filled slugfest 6-3 and now look to close out the series Friday at Verizon Center in front of their Racuous Red Rockers. Oh boy!
La saison de golf commence vendredi pour les Canadiens:
Tonight’s exhilarating win in Montreal was marred by some nonsense. A small, but vocal segment of the Canadiens fan base took it upon themselves to boo the Star-Spangled Banner (also here and here). No one asked the booing throng for their finer details of their political ideology, but it’s safe to say that a seed of anti-American sentiment blossoms in Montreal.
Regardless of the outcome on Wednesday night, this quarterfinal playoff series will soon return to Washington, D.C., and there we will have a choice. Will the Phone Booth return fire, booing “O Canada” from start to finish, or will they take the high road?