C’mon Pittsburgh, get your shit together. In the past two series’ Montreal has DRAMATICALLY overachieved during these playoffs. As anyone who follows hockey has got to be aware of by now, they knocked off the Presidents Trophy winning Washington Capitals in Round 1, where Halak single-handedly stole a couple of games, and the team combined to effectively silence the most high-octane offense in the NHL.
So good show. They did well, and everyone in the hockey world was ready to give them applause as they bowed out in Round 2 to the defending Stanley Cup Champion Pittsburgh Penguins. Apparently… the Canadians were not so ready to do so. After dropping Game 1, the Canadians and the Penguins have swapped games, and brought us to where we are now: Game 7. The kind of game where anything can happen, because it’s only one game.
Nobody thought the Canadians would get this far, but they have. The team has played with impressive heart, and more importantly has (for the most part) played cohesive hockey. They’re playing together instead of as multiple parts, and it’s paying serious dividends. It doesn’t hurt that Halak has been phenomenal when he needs to be. If I’m the Penguins I’m a bit nervous that Halak turns into a machine (again) for just this one game and shuts the door. It’s certainly possible. Heck, they did it in Game 7 of Round 1.
Michael Cammalleri deserves special recognition as well. With 11 goals, he’s out ahead of the pack in terms of playoff scoring with 11 goals. He’s scored more goals in the playoffs for the Canadians than any players since Vincent Damphousse in that dreadful, awful, heart-breaking, devastating, ultimately atrocious 1993 run to the Cup. What’s more impressive is that he has a good chance to break that record, even if the Canadians DON’T win the Cup, and will almost certainly break it if they do the unthinkable and beat the Penguins in Game 7.
For my part, I’m rooting for the Penguins. While it’s always fun to root for an underdog, and the Canadians are certainly that, I still can’t forgive them for ’93. So… go Pens!