I would suppose that there exists a silver lining, in that the Canadiens will return to the friendly confines of the Bell Centre, should there be more than a fourth game in this second round series. I suppose there also exists the conversely problematic conclusion, that even if they do, they haven't won at home against the Lightning yet in said series.
No matter how you slice it, the Habs are up against some tough odds, and the prognosis is not good. Despite playing quite well in the second half of game three, they fell to a last second goal, and now face elimination for every remaining game of the series, most importantly this one. It was a heart breaker, but if this is a team that deserves to move on, they should be able to regroup and force at least one more game.
This will be a second game in as many nights, so every player on either side is tired, and it could go either way as a result. Forget the officials, forget the last second goal of game three, forget everything. At this point, the Habs need to win every remaining game if they want to avoid the golf course, and they had better focus on this game if they intend to stay on the ice any longer.
How to Watch
Start time: 7:00 PM EDT / 4:00 PM PDT
In Canada: CBC (English), TVA Sports (French)
In the United States: NBCSN
Elsewhere: NHL GameCenter Live
Tale of the Tape
||5v5 Shot attempts for % (total attempts)
|4||5v5 Goals For||6|
|6||5v5 Goals Against||4|
||5v5 Goal Ratio||1.5
Keys to the Game
As if Brendan Gallagher's lone goal in game three didn't prove it, the key to solving Ben Bishop seems to be crashing the net after any and all shots on said net. He isn't infallible, and he does give up rebounds, so the key is to get on those and put them in when you get the chance. On clean shots he seems to be making the saves rather well, so it is more important than ever to get in there and bang home those rebounds, unless they'd rather be tapping in some gimmes for par on whatever golf courses that are too expensive for us normal people to play on.
Carey Price seemed to have completely forgotten his six goals against in game two, but it wasn't enough. Both goals against were due to brutal defensive breakdowns, so one would naturally caution the team to be more careful in the defensive zone. They don't have a day to practice, so I'd doubt they change much, but the point is they need to be better in that zone if they want to win.
It seems that every preview since the beginning of the playoffs has required some mention of the powerplay problems. Simply put, Montreal is not taking advantage of the opportunities they get, and it is really killing them. Once again in game three they went 0% with the man advantage, are 0% on the series, and one single goal in those situations could have given them the win, or at least forced an overtime. It may be extremely repetitive to say it, but a single goal on the powerplay could well grant a win for the Habs, and it couldn't come at a better time right now.
Discipline is clearly still a major factor that needs to be addressed. It was certainly better than it was in game two, but not perfect by any means. The powerplay woes aren't something that anyone can really expect Therrien and company to magically figure out heading into game four, so avoiding . At even strength they've done rather well against Tampa, so if they can keep most of the game to five aside hockey, they have a better chance of winning.
Lastly, they need to play like this is the last game of their season, because it very well may be. Two of the remaining three theoretical games would be in Montreal, which would represent an advantage despite the progression of this series to date.
This could be the last game of the year. It is a safe bet that Carey Price will have his say against that, but the way this team is playing, even he might not be enough. Here's to hoping that he can be.