Bring it on!
They may be staring down the barrel of a first-round match-up against one of the top teams in the East, but no one in the Habs’ dressing room was about to consider themselves a pushover heading into the postseason.
“You’re not going to get me to say we’re afraid of anybody, that’s for sure,” vowed Michael Cammalleri. “You respect your opponent, but trust me, they aren’t going to have any pity for us and we’re planning to just take them head on.”
While it took Cammy and Co. every second of their 82nd game of the year to clinch their spot in the dance, the team’s focus is anywhere but on the rear view mirror at the moment.
“You can’t live in the past. You learn from the past but you live in the present and here we are, getting ready for the playoffs. Now it begins,” professed Cammalleri, who is about to embark on the second playoff run of his career.
“You size them up, you size yourself up and here we go. We’re not happy just to make the playoffs, we want to win the Stanley Cup so we’ll have to beat the best teams eventually anyway, right?”
A grizzled playoff veteran, Hal Gill can still taste the sweet Dom Perignon on his lips after sipping from the Cup with the Penguins a year ago. According to the towering blue-liner, there’s no time like the present to get the playoff ball rolling in a big way.
“Playing those top teams is a different thing when you get to that level – when every play is big and you squeeze the stick hard and battle on the boards it becomes more of a man’s game,” described Gill. “That’s when you want to thrive – not against the bottom teams but the top ones.
“And being in Boston and playing in this building in the playoffs was a lot of fun, but I’m looking forward to being on the right side for once,” laughed Gill. “This is a great organization and a great history to be a part of and it would be nice to add to that.”
By shoring up their coveted berth in this years’ Spring Fling, the Canadiens will be participating in the Stanley Cup playoffs for the 80th time in the team’s 100-year history – and the league-record 78th time since the NHL’s inaugural season in 1917.
“Maybe we haven’t been a league-leader all year and I think maybe if you did a pool right now of all the media, I bet no one would pick us to win the Stanley Cup,” sneered Cammalleri on his team’s chances of adding a 25th banner to the Bell Centre rafters this spring. “But in this room we know that when we play our game, we can beat anybody. As an athlete you never think before going into the game that you’re not going to win. You really don’t and that’s not any different here.”
Shauna Denis is a writer for canadiens.com.
The “In” Crowd
The Numbers game - April 10, 2010