Let’s get this out of the way quickly. This Montreal Canadiens team isn’t perfect. They will have games like the ones against Dallas. Or Buffalo. Or Los Angeles. Games where they will look like a team that couldn’t dream of a playoff spot.
But there will also be games like Thursday night. Games like the one against Pittsburgh. Against Boston. Games where the Canadiens are fast, skilled and battling with the best teams in the league.
Games that make people remember why they fell in love with the team. With the sport. Games that make people realize how far this team has come in such a short time.
It’s fitting that this game came against the Washington Capitals. Some of the games where you can pinpoint where it all went wrong came against Washington. Last year, in the second game of the season where they fell behind 2-0 after 46 seconds and 3-0 after 2:51. It was a fitting metaphor for their season. Fall behind early, and could never catch up.
Two years earlier, the Canadiens were 19-4-3 on December 3. They outshot Washington 35-19 but lost 3-2 in regulation. It would start a downward spiral that saw them finish the season 19-34-3 over the remaining 56 games of the season. The game against Washington was the first seed of doubt for a team without their star goaltender.
It’s about more than wins and losses. With four minutes left in the game, I would have been just as impressed with the way this team played. This article would have been quite similar. The fact they tied it and won it shows that this team will always play hard. They have confidence. They have swagger. That’s hard to do when you’re losing.
You could put the blame on Braden Holtby for the goals he allowed, but think of all the quality chances the Canadiens had that didn’t go in the net. They fully deserved to tie the game.
The attitude is better, yes. But it’s not because of the attitude that this is happening. It’s because this is happening that the attitude is better. If winning can raise the morale of the fans, think about what it does for the 23 players in the room. Think about what the reverse does.
Confidence is the difference between blowing a 3-1 lead and saying ‘Oh no, not again’ and going ‘No. Not again.’
There will be the eventual slump. There will be bad games. But most nights the Canadiens are going to be fun, exciting and competitive. And they might just win, too.