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.