While the Canadiens may have experience on their side with five Cup rings and 639 playoff games under their collective belts, Game 3 is about to bring a postseason first for a huge chunk of the Habs’ dressing room: playoff time in Montreal.
“Maxim keeps telling me just how special it’s going to be,” offered Michael Cammalleri on what he’s expecting in his Montreal postseason debut. “He’s prepared us all, but I’m really looking forward to it that’s for sure. I expect an electric crowd and a crowd that’s very, very excited for their team. I’d rather be on our team than the other team, that’s for sure.”
Fans considering toning down the volume to avoid rattling the Habs’ biggest stars heading into Game 3 might want to reconsider. Cammalleri may not exactly have heaps of playoff experience to call on, but judging by his hat-trick performance in the team’s emotional Centennial game on Dec. 4, a little added pressure suits Cammy just fine.
“I’m not scared of that – I like our experience, I like our team, and I like our composure,” described Cammalleri, who has four points in two games so far in the series. “I don’t feel the pressure. I think the pressure’s on them. They have to win and we want to win. Personally, I’m not worried about getting too emotional or anything like that. I think it’ll bring a nice energy and we’ll be focused.”
A grizzled veteran when it comes to playoff hockey in Montreal, Josh Gorges knows exactly what will be coming his way from the Bell Centre faithful on Monday night.
“I remember my first playoff game here and how electric the atmosphere was,” recalled Gorges. “Tonight won’t be any different, especially playing against the Capitals. I like how our fans cheer for a blocked shot, for clearing the zone on the penalty kill, for a big hit or for a play where a guy is just getting his nose dirty or skating through traffic.
“They understand the game. They appreciate things other than just goals or highlight reel plays,” added Gorges. “They love the details. When we see a guy block a shot and the crowd goes nuts, it makes us want to go out there and do the same thing.”
Meanwhile in the visitor’s dressing room, only former Canadien Jose Theodore can count on his previous playoff experience in Montreal, and after being pulled from Game 2 for allowing two goals on as many shots, he might not be making a return trip to the Caps’ crease for Game 3. Even without Theo’s guidance, coach Bruce Boudreau is hoping his troops will use the pressure to their advantage instead of crumbling under it when the puck drops in la Belle Province.
“We know what it’s going to be like in Montreal,” declared Boudreau. “The buzz is going to be tremendous. They’re definitely into their team. They’ll get them going and hopefully it’ll make us stronger. Sometimes it can be intimidating but hopefully our guys have been through enough wars in recent years that it’s not intimidating to us.”
If the crowd isn’t enough to bolster the Canadiens to victory, maybe the potential return of Glen Metropolit can give them an extra boost. After visiting with team doctors and receiving the green light from the medical staff three weeks ahead of schedule, the playoff warrior is a game-time decision for Monday’s tilt.
“I just want to get in the lineup and battle with the boys. It’s the coach’s decision so we’ll see what happens,” admitted Metropolit. “Watching that second game was a tough one but at the same time, we weren’t going to win four straight so we’ll go out there and battle tonight. I can’t wait.”
Shauna Denis is a writer for canadiens.com.
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