I’m in agreement with some of Kouleas’ points, and in disagreement on some others.

 

For starters, the idea that both teams got what they deserved bothers me a little bit.  Montreal won the series, and that’s the way it is, but I felt both throughout the series and certainly in game seven that Washington was the dominant team.  Montreal did a very good job in the defensive zone, but they spent such a vast quantity of time in the defensive zone that despite that good work it shouldn’t have mattered.  There was a little bit of luck and a whole lot of Jaroslav Halak involved, and so they move on.

 

If they played this series 100 times, I’d be willing to bet we see results skewed in Washington’s favour, but that isn’t the way it works.

 

I don’t think Washington choked here, because I don’t know what else they could have done, but the Canadiens do deserve credit for the way they defended their zone.  A lot of shots were blocked, players did a very good job of controlling the area in front of the net.  Plus, Halak stopped 131 of the last 134 shots he faced.

 

As for the game itself, it was a lot of fun to watch.  I didn’t think the officiating was terrible, although I was shocked that Ovechkin’s goal was waved off without so much as a video review.  The commentators called it a “courageous” decision by referee Brad Watson, but on contact that marginal I don’t know how video review doesn’t get involved.  Video review was involved later when Maxim Lapierre pushed the Capitals’ goaltender into the net on a far less questionable call; why not use it?

 

Pierre McGuire went on, as he does, about confident veteran big-body presences who know how to win while playing for a contract, guys who just want the puck more and are willing to take a hit to make a play, never give up on the play and get into lanes, but I don’t see the need to resort to such dubious, clichéd logic to explain what happened.

 

Washington dominated the territorial game, but Montreal collapsed in front of their net, got brilliant goaltending, and just enough offence to squeak out a series win.  There’s nothing more, or less, to it than that. 

Comments (31)

  1. “There’s nothing more, or less, to it than that.”

    Well, all that plus Hal Gill’s monster thighs.

  2. I’m largely in aggreement with Kouleas. Yes Washington was clearing the better more talented team. Yes they were victimized by two bad calls, the Green penalty that gave Montreal the 4 on 3 powerplay the the very bad call to take away Ovechkin’s goal. But Washington allowed this to get to a single game elimination where a bad call could affect the outcome.
    Halak was great the last two games, yes, but how many wonderful saves did he make in game 7. Two maybe three. Washington seemed to want to score pretty goals from the edges with limited traffic in front. And Yes, Ovechkin is very predictable. Take the puck, skate a 100 miles and hour, don’t pass it, then shoot into someone’s shin pads. I’m not questioning Ovechkin’s effort, but the more I watch him the more I question his (and God forgive me for using a Pierre McGuireism here) Hockey IQ.
    Also, Green was horrible. Semin was horrible and Washington’s team defense was very suspect. They were never going to win the cup playing this way, regardless of what happened with Montreal last night. Montreal was still lucky to win, yes. Washington was simply too much more talented then Montreal for them to win this series without luck on their side, but Washington is going to need to learn how to make their own luck if they want to win anything. (See Joe Thornton) That means scoring and winning ugly sometimes and I didn’t see much of that with Washington, especially in Games 5, 6 and 7.

  3. No doubt Montreal had some lucky breaks, but 1-33 on the PP for the team that led the league in PP% during the regular season (beating MTL, interestingly) is unforgivable. What that says to me is that WSH had PLENTY of chances to turn things around and didn’t. To whine about two calls in one game that never should have happened just shows what kind of clowns are running the show in DC.

  4. BTW…one could make an interesting claim that PP abilities have been key in this year’s playoffs so far. Consider that the bottom 5 teams (COL, NJD, NSH, WSH, BUF) are all eliminated. That said, of the remaining 3 eliminated teams (LAK, OTT, and PHX), both the Kings and Senators were leading the league in playoff PP%. Thoughts?

  5. Couple points:

    - the call on Green for cross-checking Markov was a good call and an immensely stupid play by Green, period. There’s no argument that can be made to the contrary.

    - the disallowed goal was, per the letter of the law, a good call but I’ll admit that it’s a controversial one. Puck Daddy has a pretty good breakdown of that call with the exact rulings, amongst other things showing why it didn’t go to video review: goalie interference is not a reviewable call, it starts and ends with the on-ice official. The video review on the Lapierre goal was to see if the puck had crossed the line before/after the referee’s whistle. (note on the Lapierre interference: watching the review, IMO it’s pretty obvious Corvo leans on Lapierre full weight so as to shove him towards Varly. Lapierre may not have tried very hard to get out of the way, but he sure got helped by Corvo)

    - blaming the referees for that loss is gutless when the Caps went 1 for 33 on the PP. There were TONS of bad calls in this series, favoring both sides.

    - The Caps got at-best average goaltending throughout the series, which while not being the sole reason they lost, is part of the problem.

    - Granted the Canadiens didn’t spend a lot of time in the Caps zone, but when it happened, turnovers were created at an alarming rate.

  6. There are aspects to this game which players can repeat with some consistency over short time frames (i.e. handfuls of games), and some that they just can’t.

    The things that are repeatable over handfuls of games – even streng outchancing and territorial dominance, scoring chance generation on the power play, etc. – the Caps dominated.

    The things that aren’t repeatable over handfuls of games – 97% goaltending, timely scoring – the Habs dominated.

    Jonathan, this stuff is fundamental, you and I both know. But I think it’s foolish to hope that your readers would understand even this most basic aspect of the game.

  7. R O: I agree that Halak’s goaltending isn’t repeatable over the long haul – he can’t keep up the .974+ save percentage he put up over the last three games, all Montreal wins. It was a nice run, and while I don’t have any problem with giving Halak credit I’d be shocked if he could keep up that kind of performance.

  8. @R O: that last statement’s pretty arrogant. Thanks for the insult.

  9. The goal by Ovechkin shouldn’t of counted. Knuble hit Halak’s skate and you can tell by how Halak fell on his ass that he was interfered with. You won’t see that call all the time but you will see it fifty percent of the time. And about all those shots that Washington had, well most of them were from the outside where the Montreal kept Ovie and the rest of the Caps. Montreal deserved to win the series because they were the better coached team.

  10. as far as I am concerned Montreal should have won the series in 6 games. As for washington dominating the series I disigree other then game three washigton only dominated with shots on goal. number one power play was shut down montreal players worked harder to get the puck, out hit washington Halak played awsome but were is the love for montreals defense giving Halak good sight of the puck keeping alot of the shots from outside. Everyone wrote Montreal off forgeting that Montreasl won the season series against the caps this year. Montreal led in just about every game of the series. In my opinion dont be suprised if the pens meet the same fate as wasington.

  11. Quit using the word luck. Luck does not win best of seven series

  12. RO:

    Prescient my friend, prescient.

  13. Halak fell after the puck went in the net, not before.

  14. Well Mark, thank God you weren’t the ref last night.

  15. Jeremy Quinlan:

    Coaching alone doesn’t explain Alexander Semin going 0-for-44 on the shot clock. I watched a lot of this series, and the Canadiens had their share of luck. They ceded the territorial game early on and just hunkered down and did their best to defend their own end.

    Normally, something will go in anyway but Halak was brilliant and Montreal got just enough offence to squeak through in seven.

    Luck (or chance, if you prefer) is involved in every series, one way or the other, just like it’s involved in pretty much every facet of life. We don’t need to use it as an excuse or to diminish Montreal’s achievement, but there’s no doubt the bounces went their way against the Capitals.

  16. Jeremy Quinlan:

    Put another way, think back to Brian Boucher’s five consecutive shutouts. Were those ability or luck? Both, of course; he was on fire and he got some bounces.

    Halak’s performance was the same thing. Halak doesn’t have a career 0.974 SV%, because no goaliein NHL history has ever been that good. Doesn’t mean he shouldn’t get credit for his performance, but there’s luck involved.

    As Patrick Roy said, after letting in a half-dozen or so goals, ‘the shooters just made their shots’. Sometimes it happens, sometimes it doesn’t. It didn’t for WSH.

  17. Jeremy- I’m as much a Habs fan as anyone, but come on – you make it sound like Montreal dominated this series!

    The Habs played decently well, considering the firepower they were up against, but saying luck doesn’t have anything to do with it is putting blinders on.

    It’s not technically impossible that they beat the Pens – but it’s highly unlikely. Only advantage we have against Pittsburgh is in goal. Even if/when Halak regresses to his normal capabilities (let’s say ,920ish), Fleury has been poor to terrible all season long. Let’s hope it lasts a few more games.

  18. Anyone who truely watched that series with out Hab colored glasses could see that after game 4 the bounces started to go all Montreal’s way. The Caps started missing simple passes and just plays that for any team that we’re easy were being picked off or missed completely. Halak got hot and when your hot the puck just seems to gravitate towards you and that is basically what happened. Nothing against the Habs they played a great series but without Halak’s stellar performance and a lot of lucky bounces that Habs would have lost this series.

  19. Halak notwithstanding, the series (IMHO) was Washington’s to lose, and that’s what happened. Luck or no luck, they just didn’t get it done.

  20. I think that it came down to that Montreal played as a team and Washington played like a group of individual allstars. Montreal kept passing and cycling with the puck, blocking shots and forced Washington to the outside once in their zone. Washington had players like Green, Ovie and Semin etc trying to make a perfect play and didnt want to pay the price(in front of the net) to win, This happened throughout the series. The Caps D also wouldnt make any sacrifices and block many of the Habs shots. At the end of the night, Ovie kept trying to win the game himself instead of using his teammates and thus became predictable. The Habs may have been outshot, but its hard to deny that they played a near perfect game.

  21. Thom:

    A “near perfect game”? A near perfect game would have seen them spend more time in the offensive zone than in the defensive zone.

  22. this was very reminiscent of the 03-04 season when theodore was brilliant and montreal beat a superior Boston Bruins club who finished the season with 104pts and extremely high playoff expectations. Montreal was dominated that season as well in the 1st round as Boston controlled the play but couldn’t beat theodore. Then Montreal was swept in the 2nd round.

    The fact is Pittsburgh is a much different club than Washington. Their offence isn’t as deep but they have two elite weapons in Malkin and Crosby and have a legitimate shutdown line with Cooke-Staal-Dupuis. This team is built better for the playoffs with a solid defence with Orpik, Eaton, Gonchar.

  23. Jonathan, A near perfect game can include good defensive game which the Habs did play.

  24. Game 7 was not a near perfect game – sure the Habs played very good team defense, but in the end the game hinged on a bad turnover by Green and a very average performance by Varlamov. And a controversial call on Ovi’s goal. That’s not a perfect game, that’s a lucky game.

  25. Nobody said it was perfect. There’s a difference between near perfect and perfect.

  26. Even then, it wasn’t even close to being near perfect. The game was mostly decided on luck and luck precludes perfection (or near-perfection if you want to be pedantic about it) from entering in the argument. You can’t be near-perfectly lucky.

  27. Luck my ass. Mtl won and DESERVE to go through.

  28. A perfect game involves a good game in all three zones, and territorial domination.

    Montreal played a solid defensive zone game, surrendered the neutral zone and were fine during their incredibly brief forays into the offensive zone. Territorially they got hammered.

    It wasn’t perfect. It wasn’t near-perfect. Combined with exceptional goaltending, it was adequate.

  29. And Montreal will go on, because they won. Nobody’s denying that.

    But they had a heavy dose of luck on their side.

  30. To the luck argument, one only need to look at how many “off the post” shots WSH had. Game 7 could have gone VERY differently were it not for a few odd bounces. That said, if WSH was the team they *thought* they were, the series should never have come to that.

  31. It is perfectly within the realm of reasonable expectations for a team that is weaker than its opposition in every way possible (weaker forwards, weaker defenseman, a weaker goaltender) to play a game against said opposition, be outworked and completely dominated physically, territorially, mentally, etc., and yet still win.

    Until this basic reality is accepted for what it is, this “discussion” is not getting anywhere.

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