Call of the Wilde: Toast your heroes, Habs fans
Brian Wilde, CTV Montreal
Published Wednesday, April 23, 2014 8:23AM EDT
Last Updated Wednesday, April 23, 2014 7:20PM EDT
Lars Eller told me after game four that you have to remember that things change quickly. Last year at this time Eller was in a hospital suffering a brutal blow to the head. This season he suffered in a different way – he couldn't find his best game, his line mates changed often and his point total suffered. This year, he has five postseason points, including two goals, and is near the top of the club in plus-minus and points. Eller also got the secondary assignment to face one of the best players in the world, Steven Stamkos, and he did well.
The player mostly responsible for shutting down Stamkos was the almost-never-talked-about Tomas Plekanec, who was on for more than half of all Stamkos shifts, capping out at 78 per cent of his shifts in game four. Plekanec doesn't blow his own horn though, and we the Montreal media are not read enough league-wide to get the word out that Plekanec is in the same class as the top Selke men. He won't get a nomination, but if he isn't fifth or sixth there is something wrong (vote likely to be Bergeron, Toews, Datsyuk, Kopitar, Backes). In his career, Plekanec has gotten no votes one year and was behind Semin another year. I beat this drum a lot and I am gonna beat it even more until the media opens its eyes – Plekanec is a world-class two-way forward.
PK Subban won the coach's confidence this series. Frankly, I don't know how he did it. With another benching late in the regular season, it seemed like it wasn't going to happen. But late in the series, Subban finally became a go-to guy for Therrien. He drew an assist on the winner in game four and was on with 15 seconds left last shift in game three. He had the second-highest ice time, only 27 seconds behind Markov, in the clincher.
Markov. I have never seen such dedication from this player. Those Russian haters with their bigoted BS should open their eyes. Markov doesn't have a contract next year. He's playing for free on a knee with a limited life. Don't tell me that a Russian dreams of world titles for the Motherland. Shame on your old tripe.
Mike Weaver. Don't look now but this deadline acquisition was plus-3 in game three. He had 16 minutes.
Rene Bourque was once again a force. He has decided to be who he is. Before, he chose not to get in altercations in the corners and now he has decided to be the player he can be. I pray his love for his mates and his career and the Cup is rewarded and he makes it through this in good health. This amazing hungry play from Bourque so unlike the regular season convinces me even more that he had to fight off the demons of concussion fear to get to this place.
Max Pacioretty is a Wilde Horse because he had the winning goal and you have to fight through adversity sometimes to get it. He fought. He got it. There is number 40, finally. His first playoff goal too. That is the best way to get 40 you can imagine. He said he didn't want it with an empty netter and I remember thinking “You take it any way you can.” He finally got his 40th and it works better than any other script. And a powerplay goal too.
- Michel Therrien did it all this series. He was an outstanding coach. His timeout saved the game essentially. He said the right things in that timeout. He said get on your toes. You're on your heels. Push forward. They listened. They changed the momentum. They caught their breath. He matched lines well in shutting down the great Stamkos. He had the strong hand centre out for faceoffs. He had two centres out for key ones. This is a far cry from 2002 mustard jacket Michel and the Bill Lindsay decision allowing Nicolas Wallin to score in overtime. This Michel was at full mental capacity, not finding the game moving too fast for him. This Therrien was better than last year's too -- sure he had cause to be angry and slighted, but you can't unravel as a coach or your team will too. He didn't unravel for even a second this series.
I almost feel bad picking a goat out when you sweep a team in the playoffs but Emelin had quite the adventurous night. The culprit on the strange goal and other moments of poor decision-making.
- Price overplayed the second goal and got out of position. It wasn't unlucky at all that he allowed that from behind the net. It was predictable when he went too far beyond the target of the net. That was a mistake of last year that crept back in. He was composed, though, for the rest of the game after the timeout. So a heads up to a potential goat more than an outright goat. Look for calm, square and quiet Carey, the one he was for most of the series, to show up in the next round. He will need to be that Price much more next round than this one.
Everyone is very excited and every player seems like a hero but trust me when I say it is going to get a lot harder soon. The winner of the Bruins-Wings series is going to bring way more game than the Lightning. Way way more. So enjoy believing they're heroes because next round some will struggle. Some will disappoint you. However, that's okay because there is only one parade. At the end of it, only one city gets to have 20 heroes. For now, enjoy your 20 heroes. It has been a while.
Ginette Reno was so amazing. It was a love affair. I never experienced Roger Doucet. I am told he was amazing. I am honoured to call this place my home. That was an incredible moment of passion.
- Here's another reason why I am honoured and proud of this city and this province. Ron MacLean said a very dumb thing on CBC. He said that French refs should not be allowed to do Habs games. (eds note: later in the broadcast, MacLean apologized for his comment). If this is true, then English ones can't do games anywhere. And why isn't the West Island's Dave Jackson included? Why is it just French refs? This is bigoted thinking but rather than hammer him relentlessly here, instead I want to speak of the togetherness after we had as Quebecers supporting each other. My Twitter exploded with support from English Montrealers and from points beyond who stood vocal and strong beside their French brethren. That is the spirit of this province. We are united and proud of this bilingual city. We weren't happy with that comment but instead of cat fighting about it, we looked to our left and to our right and said "Bonjour. Hi. That was a stupid comment. It isn't how I feel". The reply that came back? "Nous sommes d'accord, mon ami. Nous sommes d'accord."