As a golfer, I was really expecting to see some of my favorite Habs players on the course by now. Don’t get me wrong, I’d much rather see them on the ice, but it’s a (very lovely) surprise. That being said, this journey is not over. There are a lot of games still to win, and the odds are not getting better as they get closer to the Stanley Cup.
The Montreal Canadiens have had every reason to lose, especially to the Bruins, and yet they pulled out a game 7 miracle and upset one of their biggest rivals. I’m not here to tell you that as a Canadian you are morally obliged to cheer for the only hometown heroes left, you can choose your own team. I’m just here to tell you that if you’re cheering for anyone other than the Montreal Canadiens, you’re a bad person. Ok, you may not be a bad person, but you should still be tried for treason. Or insanity. Or something. I’m also here to tell you that despite how inspiring the story has been so far, it is not over.
Even if you’re the kind of soulless person who says they don’t like sports movies, you’ve at least watched enough cheesy normal movies to understand the storyline here. One team is different from all the others. They’re an underdog from another country who almost feels like they don’t belong. They’re smaller, maybe even scrawny compared to the black-and-yellow goliaths they are forced to face off against. The battle is closely contested, the blows are being dealt back and forth to the point where you really don’t know who is going to win. Nearing the end, it looks like the goliaths are going to win. Maybe they have a 2 game lead in the series. But really, the underdog is the better story. The underdog has to win. At the very last second your suspicions are proven. The underdog miraculously pulls out a victory.
There’s one difference between this and your typical, upbeat underdog story. This one isn’t over. There’s an act 2, and I’m not talking a crappy Star Wars style prequel as act 2. Our Habs still have to play the New York Rangers, a team that may not be as violent and physical as the bully-Bruins, but are more skilled than either of the teams we’ve played so far. They outshot the Bleu Blanc et Rouge significantly in the regular season, and have been sharp around the net so far in these playoffs. It’s like they’ve finally understood their association to Dungeons and Dragons and started to be more accurate with their shots. That’s not to say that the speedy Habs can’t outscore them, it’s just to say that the Bruins were not the ultimate enemy. There is more to come.
If the Habs can make it past the Rangers, there are some very tough Western Conference teams as well. Both the Chicago Blackhawks and the Anaheim Ducks scored 40 more goals than the Habs in the regular season, and the LA Kings should not be underestimated. Obviously the numbers aren’t perfectly comparable because Western Conference teams play different opponents than the Habs do, but the numbers are still significant.
The next opponents are also not as easy to hate. When you have players like Brad Marchand, Milan Lucic and Zdeno Chara, who are notorious for being especially rough and, for lack of a better word, mean-spirited, it’s pretty easy to get pumped up hating your opponent. They’re essentially a team of Tolkien-ien orcs with Chara as Azog. These upcoming opponents are for the most part, just good hockey teams. Worthy opponents.
I’m not trying to say the Habs have no hope. I’m trying to say that we can’t get burnt out cheering now, because they need us to give them hope in the weeks to come. This playoff run is not over and it’s not getting any easier. Hopefully the fans can keep roaring despite not having the goliath Chara to hate, or bumps and bruises to be mad at. Let’s hope for the best and cheer our boys on.
Go Habs Go!