Monday, April 12, 2010

Habs Vs Caps

The Mystical Number One

Going into this weekend, I knew the Canadiens had left it to the last game to secure a single point to play at least one playoff minute. The number one was already on the mind. The way they could miss was also a variation on the theme – a scenario that started as a one in a thousand, and ended (had the Habs crumbled to the Leafs 5 minutes sooner, as a one-in-two scenario.

As the weekend where the world’s #1 golfer returned to its singular most important tournament and Ottawa’s number one-one was honoured for playing one thousand games, the mystical number kept popping up. In a comedic turn in my hockey pool after having fallen behind to Eric Staal’s sickening display by 14 points, I rallied to make up the difference on Saturday and Sunday. It came down to one game (EDM vs. ANA) in which the tied combatants (myself and Staal’s owner) watched one of our players in pursuit of a single point.

One is on the mind.

The Canadiens make the playoffs by virtue of winning one more game than the Rangers, one more OT game if you want to get picky. Gabriel Desjardins will be howling at the moon that the Canadiens early season luck in the extra period (their recent bad luck has gone unmentioned by the Habs downer) has vaulted them into the playoffs.

Every point in this season counted for the Canadiens. That means everyone who has been a first star, or a Game Puck recipient, or played one good game is partly responsible. One good gamers include Georges Laraque (GWG), Latendresse and Matt D’Agostini. Never mind that we might have had less drama if we’d replaced these some time players sooner.

By securing a single point in two of their final three games, the Habs guaranteed a playoff berth. That is because they beat the Rangers on March 18th, a single game to secure the tie break. Otherwise, the one point they let the Rangers get on October 24th might have been a painful one.

All attention turns to the Canadiens number one goaltender. Halak is being questioned for a recent vein of form that has seen him slip from Vezina conversations. Carey Price meanwhile rides an impressive, if well spread out, run in save proficiency. One is the key number here as the Number one goalie question is only ever on the backburner for one game anyway…

One is the seed of our playoff opponent. It also happens to be the number of good teams in the division in which they reside – a division which they tapped for 40 of their 121 points (missing out on 8 in all).

One is the stature of the star the Canadiens are set to face. There is no better player than Ovechkin in the world when he is on form.

Round one of the draft is where the Washington Capitals come from. Ovechkin (#1, 2004), Semin (#13, 2002), Backstrom (#4, 2006), Green (#29, 2004), Fehr (#18, 2003), Varlamov (#23, 2006), Carlson (#28, 2008), Morrison (#19, 2001).

One is the rank of the Washington PP. It is also the separation between the two PPs.

Washington is ranked number one in comeback potential. While both the Caps and the Habs are just over 70% in converting a win after getting goal one, the Caps trounce the Canadiens in games in which they trail (0.533 vs. 0.256)

One is also the only round that Montreal has been able to win in the playoffs since 1993.

One: the number of reasons to play Marc-Andre Bergeron.

One: the number of former Habs on the Capitals. 1:1 are also the odds that he will be booed in Montreal.

One is the number of Stanley Cup finals the Capitals have made.

One is the number of chances Montreal will get to punch the city of Washington in the face for stealing (accepting to take) our baseball team. Mind you the Expos have done a good job of punching DC ball fans in the face already, repeatedly.

This is the first time that Montreal will face the Capitals in the playoffs. This is not a rivalry that runs deep. Since the Capitals entered the league in 1974-75, the Habs have struck up new rivalries with Buffalo, Quebec, Hartford, Pittsburgh, Islanders, Tampa Bay, Calgary, Carolina, Ottawa, LA, and Colorado. Washington is the oldest and most significant team left for the Habs fans to start hating.

Finally, WON. The only word that Montreal fans will be satisfied with to describe this series in two weeks time.

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