Let's face it, this isn't a Cup-winning squad. It's probably not even a second-round squad. So let's have our annual hate-fest against the Bruins and at least steal a couple games off them so they don't have an easy time of it later.
Plus I really don't want to see what Ovechkin would do to a Markov-less defence corp.
My buddy and I were talking about this and I originally said Washington. I changed my mind to Boston for this reason. If we play Washington, we'll have to go through Boston anyways. We might as well face them in the first round when we're the most fresh - they are the #1 seed. Since we either have a choice of Boston or Washington in the first round, we at least have a choice of Washington or Jersey in the 2nd round (more options). So it is more possible that we avoid Washington and New Jersey has been struggling. That's why I now say Boston.
A couple of points though:
-it seems we found a way tonight to get back at Boston. As Lucic said in the post game, we started battling them and they started retaliating, i.e. the Bruins of old that would try to dominate us with their size and we'd punish them for it. I think we've found our game plan. Also, play Laraque. This is what we got him for - this is where he'll make a difference. Allow him to get under their skin.
-more importantly to any game plan though is that now that we are assured a playoff spot, the focus now HAS to be, not on any game plans or line match-ups, but on the MENTAL SIDE of the game. We've become a fragile team recently and are afraid to make mistakes. Especially without Markov back there, we'll be very edgy in our own zone. I don't know why we're so emotionally unstable, but it shows big time. The two games that we played after Tanguay came back and we re-united the top line were the CALMEST games I've seen us play this season. It's no surprise that they were two of the best games we've played all year. We need to focus on developing confidence in this last game against Pittsburgh, get to focusing on our transition game, and re-gaining trust in our teammates. This is the only way we'll be successful. This will also help us from not losing our cool when the game gets rough by us taking stupid penalties. ALL OF OUR PROBLEMS ARE MENTAL.
-Oh ya, get O'Byrne off the ice please. Weber showed he can play, let him play. He can't be worse than O'Byrne who doesn't know what he's doing. If Gainey put him in today because he wanted size at the back, drop Weber to D and play Laraque.
Washington. Their defence and goaltending are inferior to the Bruins so it should be easier to generate offence against them. I don't think they could shut a team down like the Bruins can. The downside of Washington is their top-end offence. They have higher quality top end players and could burn the Habs if Price isn't on.
I don't think the Habs would survive a match up with Boston. Even if they found a way to win they wouldn't have much left for Round 2.
Washington. The Rangers beat Philly today, so I'm almost certain they'll lose to Philly the next game and split. The point against the Bruins was a bonus as none of us expected them to come close. I think the Habs win in regulation vs the Penguins and lock 7th spot to play Washington in round 1.
Washington is weak on team defense, very weak on PK, and weak in goal. Our offenses aren't far off even though they have Ovechkin, Semin, and Green. Washington doesn't really strike fear in me for some reason.
In addition to all of that I'd like the Habs to face and defeat someone else for a change in the playoffs.
I also would like to see Boston playing a different opponent in the first round. The Rangers would provide a very interesting match up. I'd love to see Avery and Lucic in the mix to see what happens I think it'd be a very entertaining series.
With the Bruins you are sure to have a very emotive serie and I think our guys play their best hockey when the emotion is at its top.. Also, I think we would miss Markov more agaisnt Was than against Boston.. I really dont know at this point..
both goalies have question marks as far as I'm concerned, except theodore has never lost a 1st round series in his career.
The caps would openly trade chances with montreal, given their talent pool especially on the top end of it. Mind you, the habs may not mind that kind of game either.
The one thing that struck me tonight against boston was that the Bruin point men still have difficulty handling the habs speed. There were numerous occasions where the habs pressed the D and made them not only skate backwards, but also turn around in the process. This was the common theme in 2002, 2004, and 2008, and it still seems apparent. The difference this season is that their transition game is much more sound and dangerous.
I dont know who I would want, but if the habs win either series, I dont think it would/should be considered an upset. This team is more than capable of hanging with the conference's elite, they just have to show the consistency within the tournament that they havent showed for long stretches in the season.
We dont really have any playoff history with washington, not in my time of following hockey anyways. OTOH, Montreal holds a ridiculous all time playoff record against boston... it doesnt matter if they are the lower seeded underdogs or the bobby orr led bruin favorites (in ken dryden's rookie year), montreal has made a history of whipping this franchise around especially when all the chips are down. The overall playoff record against Boston is something staggering like 33-7 or so.