On the eve of what will no doubt mark the Habs’ exit from the playoffs, Bob Gainey and company might want to learn some lessons from another game six, the Red Wings vs. the Oilers. Not only did last night’s 4 – 3 victory for the Oilers mark one of the most unlikely upsets of the playoffs, this was also the most exciting game I have seen in the last two weeks.
Down 2 – 0 going into the third, the Oilers rallied for four goals, the one that took the lead happened with just over a minute to play. Like Carolina, the Red Wings had depth and weapons that out matched their opponents, but the Oilers would not give up; they played with desperation and simply willed the upset to occur. And Edmonton was rockin’: I’ve never heard a crowd that loud or that supportive of their team.
There is talk going round that the Canadiens collapse was predetermined by management. The story goes like this: By winning the first two in Carolina the Habs achieved their goal of getting three games on home ice; big money for a hockey club that wasn’t even supposed to make the playoffs. The Habs are a market success. Everyone of their home games were sell outs this year. But their chances of winning the cup are improbable and players are getting injured; why not fold up the tents and bank on next year.
This, of course, is horseshit. Contrast this with the Oilers who also didn’t stand a chance going into this, but are now legitimate contenders for the Stanley Cup final. No, the Habs have folded because they’ve stopped playing like a team; and the Canes have just gotten better and better. Though appearances would suggest that the last three games were close (2-1 (ot), 3-2, 2-1), in reality Carolina has dominated Montreal. Let’s hope for a quick merciful death tonight so Les Boys can do what they have their hearts set on: playing golf.