NHL

Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Habs can't believe it's over so soon

Still appear to be in shock after whipping by Sens

  • Print

MONTREAL -- There was to be no long, giddy playoff ride this season for the Montreal Canadiens.

A surprising regular season that saw them go from last in the NHL Eastern Conference a year ago to second place with a 29-14-5 record in the lockout-shortened 2013 campaign came to a crashing halt in the playoffs.

The Canadiens were ousted in only five games by the seventh-seeded Ottawa Senators, losing the final game in a 6-1 blowout on home ice on Thursday night.

Players looked to be in shock after the game that it could be over so soon.

"It's a heartbreaker," said winger Max Pacioretty. "A couple of bounces the other way and we come into (Game 5) up 3-1."

While the Canadiens felt they outplayed Ottawa in all but Game 3 -- a fight-filled 6-1 defeat -- they were outscored 20-9 in the series, including 13-0 in third periods and one overtime period.

The NHL's fourth-best attack in the regular season (3.04 goals per game) outshot Ottawa 172-147 in the series, but couldn't solve goaltender Craig Anderson or the big defencemen who cover the front of his net.

At the other end, shots that probably shouldn't have gone in squeaked past Carey Price, who suffered a suspected groin injury late in Game 4. Backup Peter Budaj was lit up for six goals on 29 shots in the series finale.

The story of the series played out in Game 1, when Montreal fired 50 shots at Anderson but lost the game 4-2. They also lost centre Lars Eller, who left behind a pool of blood as he was stretchered to an ambulance after an open-ice hit from Eric Gryba, who was suspended two games.

Forwards Brian Gionta, Brandon Prust and Ryan White also didn't finish the series with injuries, while Pacioretty missed Game 2 but toughed it through the rest despite a separated shoulder.

"The last two weeks we had a lot of bad luck," said coach Michel Therrien. "But our approach since Day 1 was that that was not an excuse.

"And I don't think the players used that as an excuse because every game, the way they prepared themselves and the way they started the games, I could tell that was not an excuse."

Now Canadiens management has to figure out what went wrong and what changes are needed for next season.

Montreal made wholesale changes after the 2011-12 debacle, replacing general manager Pierre Gauthier with Marc Bergevin. He brought in a new front office, extra support staff and new coaches, led by Therrien.

The team got better for many reasons, starting with remaining relatively healthy through the 48-game regular season.

Big strides were made by developing players like Norris trophy candidate P.K. Subban and physical defenceman Alexei Emelin, whose injury late in the season looked to disrupt the entire defence, especially his regular partner Andrei Markov.

It would not be a surprise if Bergevin went looking for more size and muscle at the back end this summer.

The team's most pleasant surprise was the play of rookie forwards Alex Galchenyuk, the third overall pick in the 2012 draft, and small but gritty Brendan Gallagher, a Calder Trophy nominee after a 15-goal season.

"Those two kids progressed all season long," said Therrien. "Even in the last month, they were a big factor to the team. I was really impressed with how they played in the playoffs."

Six-foot-six defenceman Jarred Tinordi also emerged late in the season and the playoffs as another promising rookie, while more blue-line talent awaits in the AHL in Nathan Beaulieu and Greg Pateryn.

His addition of tough free agent Prust last summer was a hit, and the GM is likely to want more like him.

The Habs have 18 regulars signed for next season and may increase their cap space to the $9 million range if, as expected, they buy out unused rearguard Tomas Kaberle's final year at $4.2 million and if unrestricted free agent Michael Ryder ($3.5 million) signs elsewhere.

-- The Canadian Press

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition May 11, 2013 C2

Fact Check

Fact Check

Have you found an error, or know of something we’ve missed in one of our stories?
Please use the form below and let us know.

* Required
  • Please post the headline of the story or the title of the video with the error.

  • Please post exactly what was wrong with the story.

  • Please indicate your source for the correct information.

  • Yes

    No

  • This will only be used to contact you if we have a question about your submission, it will not be used to identify you or be published.

  • Cancel

Having problems with the form?

Contact Us Directly
  • Print

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

Have Your Say

New to commenting? Check out our Frequently Asked Questions.

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscribers only. why?

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press Subscribers only. why?

The Winnipeg Free Press does not necessarily endorse any of the views posted. By submitting your comment, you agree to our Terms and Conditions. These terms were revised effective April 16, 2010.

letters

Make text: Larger | Smaller

LATEST VIDEO

Fringe, space motifs trendy for teens heading back to school

View more like this

Photo Store Gallery

  • Geese fight as a male defends his nesting site at the duck pond at St Vital Park Thursday morning- See Bryksa’s Goose a Day Photo- Day 08- May 10, 2012   (JOE BRYKSA / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS)
  • A golfer looks for his ball in a water trap at John Blumberg Golf Course Friday afternoon as geese and goslings run for safety- See Joe Bryksa’s 30 day goose challenge- Day 24– June 15, 2012   (JOE BRYKSA / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS)

View More Gallery Photos

Poll

Who has been the Bombers MVP so far this season?

View Results

View Related Story

Ads by Google