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Playoff Tuned Habs Ready To Roll Over Any First-Round Opponent

If you were tuned into the RDS Sports 30 sports news after last night's game, you might have heard from commentator Reneaud Lavoie, that according to a well informed source within the Canadiens organization that all players currently on the sidelines nursing injuries will be ready to go come the first game of the playoffs.

Yes, including captain Koivu, broken foot bone and all.

That would mean that Koivu, Komisarek, Bouillon and Ryder are all ready to go by the middle of next week.

Now that's freaking awesome news.

I'm sure we will hear more about it in the coming days, but it seems that an assessment on the captain's foot has determined that Koivu can play on it.

As a mentioned earlier this morning in the Breakfast post, the elements are in place for the Canadiens to go deep this season.

I listed goaltending, team harmony and faith, and lineup depth as the reasons why I believe the Canadiens can achieve the final four, the conference final to be precise.

I did fail to mention health. Perhaps because the Canadiens have played like such a focused group since Mike Komisarek has gone down, winning six of their last seven, I totally failed to worry about health as a concern.

When these players return, it will make the team all the more stronger.

I like what I see in this group of players. There is a self confidence about them that is reassuring.
Carey Price is making Bob Gainey look brilliant, this despite Cristobal Huet's heroic play with the Washington Capitals. Price is in a zone, playing the like focused goaltender that the reputation that preceeded him foretold.

Watching him and the Habs go, I sense a familiar story rewritting itself. There are the omnipresent Dryden and Roy comparisons that proliferate any talk of Price. Some say it is getting ahead of ourselves when we indulge in that kind thinking, and those wise voices are correct, as nothing is ever won in advance.

Then again, Dryden and Roy were not on first place teams when they won Cups in their rookie seasons.

Price is the backstopper of a division winning team, one that could well be a regular season conference champion by the end of the weekend.

Maybe we as fans are finally coming to the realization that this group is alot sounder that we give them credit for at times.

It is an extremely well built and thought out team, run by a coach and GM who don't give away what is inside their minds.

This morning, when I was driving my kids off to school and my wife to work, I was listening to the call in show on radio CKAC. Today's question had to do with which opponant would listeners most like to see the Canadiens face off against in the first round.

I was tuned in for a good 30 minutes, and not once did I hear somone speak my opinion.

I don't care who they meet in the first round! Habs will take it, game over - next!

Callers were choosing between the Bruins, Flyers, Capitals and Senators and listing why they favored one or feared another.

Reasons for either were quite split up.

The Capitals would present an exciting opposition, one said, with the always explosive Ovechkin ( Oven Chicken in Russian ) and Cristobal Huet.

Yeah that would be fun! The Capitals are not that deep - Habs in five and fun while it lasted.

One caller said he feared the Bruins, and the next caller said bring 'em on.

The opinion was that Boston were bigger and more physical than the Habs, and that wasn't a good thing.

Okay, well when was the last time they beat the Canadiens?

The show's host thought the same, and the caller named Zdeno Chara as a player that could wreak havoc on the Habs.

Guess he missed a pair of highlight reel goals by Kovalev a few weeks back where Chara looked about as mobile as a fire hydrant on them.

The Habs have keyed their games against the Bruins by overworking Chara, whereas other teams avoid him. They keep him busy, know the flaws in his game and expose them. They did it with success when the big defenseman was in Ottawa, and learned something they have applied to him since he farted off the Beantown.

Gimme Chara and the Bruins. Bring out your brooms!

The Flyers and their neanderthal brand of hockey?

One caller wished for it, just for the sake of making Daniel Briere eat his words!

Briere, if you recall and I'm sure you do, said he chose the Flyers over the Habs when he signed as a free agent because he felt they were a better team.

The show's host was licking his lips at this possible confrontation, just because he'd want to question Briere on that quote after all was said and done.

And the Flyers against the Habs would be done in no more than 5 games.

Why? Simply because they play dumber than dumb. They have a thug coach and mentality that steers their game plan away from the skilled elements of their lineup. They have but one way to win, and it hasn't had any success against the Habs. Plus they have siv goaltending.

Ottawa? Oh would I cherish that!

Now that the Canadiens have learned a poised method of handling them, I do not fear them like I once would have. Neither do the Canadiens either. This Senators team has become so dysfunctional, that it wouldn't surprise me to hear that they are about to hire Anthony Robbins to give their team psyche a boost.

Being that I live an hour away from both Montreal and Ottawa, this is the matchup I would prefer in order to win some bucks and settle scores. It would also provide the Canadiens with more confidence than a win over the others teams. It would give them an edge, mentaly, I think.

Bring it on!

One first round opponant that would have concerned me if the teams could have met, is the New York Rangers, who cannot finish lower than sixth.

The Blueshirts are extremely well coached, have many offensive weapons despite what seems to appears to be a shortcoming production wise, have one of the best, if not unheralded goalies in the league, and have been well versed in playing shutdown hockey for most of the season. They have playoff experience spread across the lineup. Plus they have the ultimate shitster in Sean Avery.

They are not unlike the New Jersey Devils, where a defensive mode of thinking reigns supreme.

I don't put a lot of stock in the fact that the Habs had their come from behind win of the century against the Rangers. That would be more ammo for the Rangers state of mind in a playoff meeting than it would be a confidence thing for Montreal.

I'd see that matchup going six or seven games, in the crystal ball for round two. They will beat whoever they face to start with, including the Devils.

Carolina facing the Canadiens is a complicated mathematical option. If they win their next game, they take the Southeast Conference. Barring that, they would still be tops if Washington fails to beat Tampa in their final game. If the Hurricanes lose to Florida in their final game and Washington wins theirs, they'd need both Philadelphia and Boston to go pointless in their last two respective games each to make the playoffs. The complications increase should Carolina only tie their last opponant. It is possible, thought unlikely they would lose to Florida and slip to seventh or eighth place.

I'd rather not think of the Hurricanes and Canadiens meeting for a third time. There's an odd voodoo kind of thing which makes turning points jump out of the blue when these teams have met. Things like bench minors from Kerry Fraser and unpenalized sticks to the captains eye.

Beyond those possible opponants first round matchups, I see the Canadiens stretching their post season all the way to a conference final battle with the Pittsburgh Penguins, and possibly more.

The Habs and Penguins match up well. Montreal has depth that Pittsburgh do not, and they have top line offense that the Canadiens can counter. It would be a long series.

For now, it's "come on Sunday night", when we'll know exactly where everybody sits.

As for who I hope they play, still, I don't care!

Happiness and fullfillment from a hockey team will do that for you!.