There are some hockey games where the result feels pre-determined. When a powerhouse meets a post-deadline seller that has depleted its roster in favour of future assets, the seller and its fans’ best hope is sometimes just to not get blown out. All this to say, I don’t think anyone expected the Montreal Canadiens to beat the Florida Panthers last night.
Except, of course, the Montreal Canadiens themselves.
The Panthers are a formidable team, running away with the Atlantic Division and looking like legitimate threats to win the Stanley Cup. They predictably outshot and out-chanced the Tricolore on Thursday night, but the score didn’t reflect their overall control of the game. In fact, had Montreal converted on one or two golden opportunities where they had bad bounces, it could have been a different result.
The Habs refused to quit on this game, and did everything they could to capitalize on another stellar Jake Allen performance. They ended up having to pull him from the net a little early to try and erase a two-goal deficit, and they almost managed to pull it off.
What seems the most refreshing to myself as a fan of this team is their change in mentality. A couple of months ago, this was a team that likely would have given up after the Panthers took their first lead at 2-1. The goaltender is probably hung out to dry, and it ends up as an ugly, blowout loss.
This just doesn’t happen anymore, and the change in mentality where this team feels and plays like they are always in the game is incredibly refreshing. Being outplayed by Florida was always expected, but seeing them battle and almost get back into the game made for an entertaining, and closer contest than anyone thought it would be.
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