Men in the mirror
After seeing the eighth-seeded Canadiens knock off the President’s Trophy winners and then send the defending Cup champs to an early exit seven games later, it’s almost hard to imagine the Habs not in another David vs. Goliath series this spring. The secret may be out about the 2009-10 Habs by now, but according to Maxim Lapierre, the team won’t be shedding their underdog mentality any time soon.
“In the playoffs, it’s a cliché but you really have to turn the page quickly. You just have to keep in mind the things you did well in the first two rounds,” explained Lapierre, who has three goals so far in the postseason. “But we’re only halfway to our goal and we can’t stop now. We know it’s not going to be easy – we’re playing a tough team whether it’s Boston or Philly. We’re enjoying what we’re doing but it’s far from over.”
With at least one great Original 6 rivalry about to be rekindled next round, the Montreal native has no preference when it comes to facing either the Broad Street Bullies or the Big Bad Bruins.
“You can’t take anyone lightly. You can’t underestimate a team just because they’re not
Washington or Pittsburgh,” warned Lapierre. “To get this far, you have to be playing well so we’ll have to be at our best no matter who we play.
“Since the start of the playoffs, our focus has been on playing our game,” added the feisty center. “We know what kind of team we’ll be playing against and how they play. It’s just about focusing on the details.”
One Hab enjoying seeing less work in practice than in his last few games, Jaroslav Halak has recharged since shutting down three of the league’s top snipers in Alex Ovechkin, Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin. There may not be as many marquee names around to fire vulcanized rubber his way in Round 3, but Halak isn’t planning on letting his guard down any time soon.
“Both finished ahead of us in the standings and they both have good teams. It doesn’t really matter who we play – we just have to make sure we play our game,” shrugged Halak, who is currently leading the NHL with a sparkling .933 save percentage. “It was just nice to have the day off and even today was more relaxed. We’ll just find out who we play tonight.”
While Sunday’s puck drop – either in Philadelphia or Boston – will represent the deepest postseason run Michael Cammalleri has been a part of in his seven-year career to date, it’s still not long enough for the 27-year-old sharpshooter.
“It’s far from over and we’ve got a long way to go. We’re not going to get too far ahead of ourselves here – we’ve got a lot to prove still,” reminded Cammalleri, who leads the NHL with a dozen playoff goals this spring. “It is what it is. On paper, you’re not facing Crosby or Ovechkin or Malkin so the dynamic changes a little bit but if you get to the Conference Finals, you’re playing a team that’s playing pretty well so it only gets more difficult from here.”
So just how does Cammy plan on preparing for his next victim without knowing who it is yet?
“That’s not been a challenge because we have no control over it so we can’t worry about it,” explained Cammalleri. “We’ll watch the game tonight and see what happens. But maybe five or six overtimes would be nice.”
Shauna Denis is a writer for canadiens.com
Game 7: the sequel
Seeing is believing