Monday, May 05, 2008

Reasons to Believe: Shattered

OK, so the season's over.

What happened to "Believe in something and it will come true"?

Have we been cheated all those years by people repeating this old adage? I don't think so. I think the truth is that not many people believed in the first place and even less believed after game 4.

First of all, witness that only 3 people replied to the post to believe. It's true this site isn't a forum and doesn't always solicit an enormous number of comments, but we had a flood of them a few days earlier about Halak. Where's Geoff's positivity for example? Especially given that Price would be the starter...

I think what actually happened is that I stole the only real reason to believe with the first item on the list, Saku Koivu. I mean, come on, I know I included it, but how many really counted Carey Price's determination and demeanour as a real reason to believe. I had serious doubts with even adding his name to the list. Appears my worries weren't unfounded.

As much for exorcising some bad feelings of my own as to provide any insight, I wanted to revisit those now hollow reasons we cited to believe:

1) Saku Koivu

I think the captain came through yet again with the effort and the skill. He basically did his part, and heroics beyond creating goals and chances were unfortunately out of even his long reach. And, yet again he shows his hunger for success by immediately heading off to fight for gold with his country.

2) Carey Price's form since his 2008 anointment (Tru7h)

As I mentioned, this reason was tenuous at best. He was either injured (the generous take) or completely fazed by the increased tempo of playoff hockey.More disturbing was his total loss of focus after a bad goal – something, incidentally, we were promised this goalie didn't ever succumb to. I for one could endure a few more broken sticks if it meant he could break out of a prolonged sulk during the same game. He has a lot of learning to do (as we knew) and it may yet be a long road with him yet.

3) Elimination games (Tru7h)

As for elimination games, I was initially sold on this reason, but the fact remains they hadn't exactly won a Cup, had they?

This team puts themselves in unnecessary elimination games sometimes, thereby skewing their record here. Until they make it past the second round, I don't think this could count as a positive for them again. What's more, most of the Habs turbo-charged efforts in elimination games can be traced back to their captain.

4) The fans

This obviously factored into an early lead (a "depart cannon" if you will), but Bell Centre fans are fickle and know a lost cause when they see one. Enthusiastic cheering and hopeful bursts only masked the fact that Game 4's outcome had sealed the fate of the Habs in fans' minds.

5) Bob Gainey (Tru7h)

A stretch to be sure. Turns out Gainey didn't do anything too drastic to change Carbonneau's plan. Sure Price played, as expected, but there were no drastic measure anywhere else. Gainey played his hand with the Huet trade anyway, when he said that "The Canadiens are going nowhere this season, so we'll save the owner a few hundred thousand bucks".

6) It has been done before (Stevens)

Of course this goes both ways. The Canadiens have lost in 5 many times, as well.

7) The Canadian media has jumped off the bandwagon

Turns out the Canadian media were right. Canada's playoff style hockey beats Canada's team (who try to play regular season hockey in the playoffs – the fools).

8) The desire to prove people wrong

I saw this desire around the team, but ultimately it wasn't enough. I suppose Carey Price did prove a lot of those prophecy mongers wrong though, didn't he?

9) Philly's victim currency has run out

Just as it did, they decided to play well. That was unlucky...

So there you have it.

I leaned on Koivu for three unlikely wins and the team's out. Far from blaming him, he is still the Canadien I admire most, as he did what under most professionally defended and goaltended circumstances would have been enough.

If the Canadiens are going to grow as everyone predicts they will, they need to make sure that next time we come to one of these situations (an we will) that I (and others) can feel confident about putting other names to paper. Whether this means trades, signings or much better psychological coaches (I'm looking to Long Island...) is yet to be seen.

Enter the next stage of the game. Go Habs Go.

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