Call of the Wilde: Dare to dream
By Brian Wilde, CTV Montreal
Published Thursday, May 15, 2014 9:55AM EDT
Last Updated Thursday, May 15, 2014 10:57AM EDT
Eat some crow hockey community, including myself. Dine on some terrible tasting crow.
The one thing every expert was certain of is that Desharnais at his height and weight, and 1 assist in the first 19 games of the season, and weak pedigree rising up through the ranks of the East Coast hockey league' was never going to be the number one centre on a Stanley Cup-contending hockey team.
Everyone was certain he was going to get pushed around, and with the play pushed to the boards as it does in the post season he was going to get pushed into the ground even more.
That didn't happen. Desharnais didn't disappear.
Instead, it was David Krejci who disappeared with not a single goal in the playoffs in 12 games.
Desharnais figured out how to elevate his game in the playoffs from last season when he did nothing against the Senators.
He was terrible last year, but this year he finishes his checks and fights successfully for pucks using his low centre of balance.
In game 7, he kept protecting the puck, turning, protecting, turning until the defenceman trying to play him was dizzy.
Desharnais set up the Pacioretty goal with a hard-won fight to keep the puck.
Desharnais has done it. He has proven everyone completely wrong.
He is the number one centre on a Cup-contending team. Admit it. Who saw that coming?
He is learning how to elevate his game. You can see it.
It is so obvious to watch the skating stride continue to push forward when he battles now.
Pacioretty is now fighting through the check, keeping the feet moving, battling some more.
The other stuff you already knew that he could do. The quick shot for a goal is the easy part for him.
The hard part is the puck battle and the fight for space. You can see that he is learning very quickly now.
I think Pacioretty has had a breakthrough moment. I think this is an incredible experience for him.
Experience is vital. You have to figure it out. It isn't a knock when a guy hasn't figured it out yet. It isn't meant to be insulting.
He only has a little more than a dozen games in the playoffs. Everyone has an education and this is his. Just in time. He's going to move forward successfully from here.
You can see it in the goal count and more importantly in the battle for space and to win pucks.
Another huge goal as John Tortorella scratches his head in dismay wondering what must be wrong with his coaching that he could have such a huge heart-and-soul player and not know it at all.
Weise goes from the press box in Vancouver to the conference final in Montreal.
Weise with some real anger after the game as he said he was threatened by Lucic in the handshake line.
We learned through lip-reading that Lucic said to both Weise and Emelin "I'm going to f****** kill you next year." He then had the audacity to follow that up by calling Weise a baby for revealing that he was threatened.
Weise said that incidents, like the water bottle squirt by Thornton to the muscle flex by Lucic, indicated the Bruins had no respect for the Habs and that the Habs used it as a motivator to win.
What was interesting is that this anger over a lack of respect just flowed out of the Habs after they won, but they kept it in the room and had nothing but flowery praise for Boston before game 7.
An angry defiance was brewing but no one knew a thing.
Man, that is one tight room. There isn't one big mouth on that team sliding info slyly to some media member. We were all completely in the dark.
He said one of the boldest, most competitive sentences in sports history after game 6 and then he backed it up with a game 7 win.
Subban said he couldn't wait for the excitement of game 7 and the noise of the fans and he couldn't wait to take it away from them.
That's brass. It is basically saying he couldn't wait for the Boston fans to be hurting. That's the stuff of legends. That's Mark Messier-esque.
He added to it after game 7 by saying that he "feels sorry for any team that has to come into our building and our city".
Again he challenges anyone to match him. Usually everyone worries about PK over-stepping but somehow PK is winning over the world right now.
Well, everyone but the Hockey Night in Canada crew, who I am told, praised the Bruins until Don Cherry's bitter end.
Not a lot of ice time for Briere but what production. A perfect pass to Weise for the first goal and a smart and purposeful bounce off Chara's skate for the insurance marker.
By the way, Chara's descending the ladder now and with his demise, the Bruins' climb off Everest has also officially begun.
Hamilton is not a 30-minute D stud. The NHL hierarchy just began its rotation to Montreal. The Habs are surging.
The Bruins begin life after Chara soon, as he is 38.
Back to Briere: His accepting a reduced role and buying into a system that didn't help his numbers or his pride is a testament to him and the concept of team that the Habs believe in.
Good on Daniel. A true professional this entire season. I have a tonne of respect for this player who despite having the second-best points per 60 minutes played never complained he wasn't used much.
Five elimination games this year for Price. Latvia, USA, Sweden, and Boston twice and Price allowed 2 goals. That's a goals-against average of 0.40.
I asked Brian Gionta is he the best goalie in the world and he answered "of course he is." And he is.
An argument about the quality of the saves at the Olympics is not germane. The argument that matters is the pressure of playing those Olympic games and needing to make every save.
Price also was vital as a leader. Price was the player who gave a surprising speech in the second intermission and the message was simple but important: enjoy the moment and have fun.
Briere said it is rare that Price speaks but he sure picks his moments well. What a leader and what a foundation for success. He has passed all tests now.
He always deflects praise humbly too. When asked about being the reason the Habs are moving on, he said that undoubtedly the Habs are winning because everyone buys in and accepts their role and that whenever someone doesn't play they keep working hard and not complaining.
That's the bedrock of a team. That's what's working in Montreal.
When your leaders are great players and better men, then you have a chance of winning big.
He has learned his lessons well. In the morning he got a loaded question that there was no right answer to.
It was a lose-lose question whichever way he chose to answer.
He knew it right away and said he had no comment for that question about whether the Bruins respected the Habs.
He also preached turn the other cheek when there was post-whistle garbage. That had to be hard to follow but Therrien knew if the series was tit for tat after the whistle then it would translate to that same garbage during the game, and if the play resembled a zoo with the animals out of the cages then it was advantage Bruins.
Therrien wanted fast, clean hockey. He got it by taking the Bruins physical advantage away in every way he could - even when it meant letting an extra punch to the face happen unanswered.
I said once this year in a blog that the real important stars are the players and that NHL coaches are replaceable. I still believe the first half of that sentence but the last half.... I am not so sure the Habs win the series if a coach at the top of his craft isn't handling not only the tactics during the game, but also the important intimidation factor after the whistle.
Therrien proved the value of a good coach over and over. Sure the stars win it but good guidance has high value too.
He showed you can rely on rookies to make smart plays.
His speed was a nightmare for the Bruins on the forecheck. He turned the D on the chip in over and over and they just couldn't beat him to the puck.
Therrien has trouble relying on rookies. It isn't in his nature. Perhaps Bournival's smart play will also increase the coach's confidence he can soon rely on Beaulieu more.
I saw images of the Bell Centre. Wow. Well done. Best hockey fans in the world. Packed to the rafters to watch a large TV. That's incredible. 21273 paying to watch television together. They could not believe that in Boston.
He took responsibility for the loss and said that he didn't bear down more on his chances and he needed to focus more.
This player does need better focus. He loses his way. He doesn't mentally concentrate well on scoring because he is too busy thinking he needs to be an after-the-whistle agitator.
Snow shower in the goaltender's face one whistle, then a push on another player after another whistle, then he plays helmet toss.
Brad, just play hockey. Every whistle another brush-by and contemplating how he can get under his opponent's skin.
Brad you're right. Don't bother with all that garbage.
Just focus on the game and trying to do something productive when the players are actually playing.
So in summary: Game on - think hard about doing good hockey stuff. After the whistle - stop thinking. Let your mind go blank. You're not still playing. Just stand there. No snow shower. No punches. No elbows. No thrown helmets. No brain usage or try this: let your mind think of how you can play better when the puck has been faced off.
News flash Brad: it's what the other guys playing are thinking about.
Time to grow up, son.
You're a very good hockey player.
A tough player to slow down.
Good passion for the game.
But Milan you're a terrible loser.
That was a brutal moment for you threatening to kill someone next year.
This isn't even an uncommon thought when the game is going on but in the handshake line? This is the greatest original hockey moment. A classic hockey moment. A place where after battling like gladiators for 7 games you look to the man across from you and pass along your respect for the hard work and the battle fought.
You don't tell them you're going to kill them.
Yes, Weise would be a baby to bitch you out if it was after a fight in the 2nd period, but in the handshake line?
Milan, you answer for your lack of respect and sportsmanship in that sacred spot. That's a special place for heroes and warriors. A place where the winner says thanks a lot and the loser says good luck next round.
In fact, the real classy guys add even more words like you fought hard or great saves. Not I am going to f****** kill you.
Come on. You just look like a pinhead.
Furthermore, when told right after the game in the locker room that the Habs thought you were disrespectful you answer "Why? Because I pointed to my crest when I scored?" as if telling a guy you were going to kill him 15 minutes before that was not on your mind? Must be about that crest thing, right Milan?
Nice horribly-executed double fake out.
And further to that, Milan you didn't think that the handshake line wasn't going to be on camera? That RDS, CBC, NBC all just pack it in right at the final horn. "Okay boys wrap this up. Nothing to see here."
Word of advice, Looch, cameras are everywhere now.
So the next time you get into a line up, let's say at the grocery store and a little old lady cuts in front of you, try to refrain from threatening her because it is probable there is a camera there.
Sorry Milan but it really is difficult to pretend nothing happened when you're shaking hands with Weise and Emelin like you want to break them. It is 2014, Milan.
The lie won't fly.
In the post game news conference he was asked: why did you lose? Claude said "our rookies".
David Krejci had zero goals in the entire playoffs and it was his rookies who cost the series?
Then he said the Habs were whining all the time.
Julien has to be a leader here and take his own responsibility for the series loss.
Julien shouldn't be complaining about the Habs whining because do you know what complaining about whining actually is called? Whining.
He returns for the third round at some point.
Who comes out? Wow! Tough call. I say Prust if he is not healthy. Not Bournival as he has been far too good. Perhaps Briere.
Nice problem to have.
Bring on the Rangers
Game one at 1 p.m. on Saturday.
New York doesn't play well in Montreal, especially their goalie Henrik Lundqvist who didn't even get the start late season as Talbot did.
I picked the Bruins to best the Habs in the last round. This round I like this match up for the Habs.
I will take the Habs in 6 to make it to their first Stanley Cup final since 1993. That's also the last time a team from Canada won the cup.
Edmonton, Calgary, Ottawa and Vancouver all went to the final without a cup.
Can Montreal break the drought? First things first against the Rangers, but yes they can.
They match up well against the Hawks and the Ducks but not the Kings. As I said first things first, but you know what?
Dare to dream, Montreal. Dare to dream.