Opponent: Maple Leafs
Habs Goalie: Budaj (W)
Opposition Goalie: Scrivens (L)
Habs goalscorers: Plekanec, Pacioretty Cole, Staubitz
Opposition goalscorers: Phaneuf
Price's cowboy hat (people wear those for real?) and Staubitz's first goal of the season at the last possible moment were noteworthy, but the best play was Cole's goal. It reminded me so much of Lafleur, but also of Cole himself. Down the right side with speed and gusto went Erik who made no mistake whatsoever on the career AHL-er. The goal was his 35th of the season.
Maybe it is a good thing there are no playoffs because this sure is getting boring, isn't it. Every game the same players step up, every game they do it in the same way. It makes watching, writing, and I am sure reading very repetitive. Max scored and added an assist and, therefore, ended with a very impressive 65 points. The US will enjoy his play at World's and we'll all look forward to September to see him again.
When the Leafs had an early 5-on-3 the last thing I expected was a goal by us. I actually thought that an early goal by Toronto would be just what we needed to ensure a loss. What I underestimated, however, was how bad Toronto's players are. Not to take away from Pleks (only the second player to score in that situation that year), but it was two mistakes in our end that led to the breakaway and then horrible goaltending that allowed the uncontrolled puck to trickle in.
Erik is the player we all dreamed of getting 3 years ago (Gomez, Gionta or Cammelleri) and is way better than the player we thought we got last July (Cole). He played with passion and pride every single game this year and is the perfect player to be leading a young group. I like Gionta, but wonder if his captaincy, like the reign of the coach and gm, should come to an end this year. If so, Erik would be the obvious choice in that regard.
Josh played another solid game and ended the season as one of only two players to play all 82 games (Cole). It was a good bounce-back year after his injury last year and one can only hope that the same happens for Markov in 12-13. Gorges, along with Markov, Emelin and Subban form a good top-4, or 4 of top-5; it will be interesting to see who sticks come game #1.
One of the best plays by Subban was his hit on Brown. Hitting is such a small part of his game, but he is still so good at it. To me that shows just how good he is as he has so many different tools; offence, defence, skating and passion are a few more of his other skills. It was another good game from PK in what was an up and down season (although, admittedly up of late). The 22 year-old is getting better all the time and hopefully has many good years in Montreal to come. I guess, like us, he'll be watching the lottery and draft with interest.
Peter Budaj - Game Puck
Peter played well again tonight and has actually been quite good of late. In fact, in his last 7 games (the last 4 weeks) he has a save % of .931. Maybe, in the end, he has earned himself an NHL job, back here in Montreal that is. These last few weeks should give management the confidence that he can be a decent back-up, but should also serve as a warning that he should be playing more. The cupboard is bare beyond him for sure, but if Price is healthy and if Budaj gets 25 games (he got 17 this year) I think we'll still be in a good goaltending spot next year.
So, there it is. 82 games have come and gone. It is a little disappointing that we were written off in October or November by so many and that they were right. We had so many chances and reasons to turn it around all year, but things just didn't work out. Trading Cammelleri and waiting forever for Markov to come back have to rank as the highest of the reasons though. I'm not sure we should have kept Camms, but the return we got (8 points in 38 games - 3 less than Gomez in the same amount of games) was absolutely pathetic. It killed our second line 3 months ago.
Tonight was disappointing in that for once I wanted us to lose a last minute game against Toronto. My guess is that the Leafs didn't want to win, but then again they are horrible, so maybe that was indeed their best. It was fitting that our top-3 forwards scored as they (and Desharnais of course) have carried us all season long. As sad as that seems (carry us to last that is, as we have been atrocious), just imagine where we would have been without the Cole line, without 242/246 games played from that trio. Next year we can't rely on them and them alone again. Our goal this summer has to be to build a real top-line (I would love 3 players better than Cole) or at least a line as good as that one. Pleks can be one piece, but who will the other two be? A draft pick in there would be great and a new acquisition, from a trade or free-agency, seems a must.
That's it then, another long season over and another summer to enjoy other things. Thanks to all the readers and loyal Habs fans out there. There are a ton of fans who jumped ship in the Fall or Winter, but if you are reading this you didn't. The team needs real fans and that, we have enough of. Now all we need is a good GM, a good coach, a good draft pick, a few good new forwards and a whole new winning regime. Sounds like Molson is going to have a pretty busy summer if he is going to keep us happy, as for me, I am now in sit-back and watch (and likely complain, but hopefully rejoice) mode.