Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Time to Relax

The Canadiens are the first Eastern Conference team to clinch a postseason berth. They did it in style, beating an Ottawa team that started the year 15-2 and drew comparisons to the greatest teams in NHL history. While the current Sens team is a fractured shell of the one that came out of the gates flying after being decimated in last year's Stanley Cup final, you can't take anything away from this team.

Athletes often talk about peaking at the right time. In the case of the Sens, they peaked about a month into the season and have played .500 hockey since then. In fact, if you take away the Sens first 17 games, they aren't even a playoff team. They're 26-26-7 since. Not good enough to make the playoffs.

The Canadiens on the other hand seem to be rolling in a big way. They've been the most consistent team in the conference all year long and their 247 goals are the most in the NHL.

Guy Carbonneau forgave them right away for taking their foot off the accelerator after jumping out to a 7-1 lead through 40 minutes by playing brilliant, mistake-free hockey.

Carey Price wasn't available to the media after the game and may have been a bit frustrated at being hung out to dry when the Sens scored four third period goals but looked pretty happy as he left the Bell Centre in his big Ford pickup truck. You got the sense that the team may have been heading out to celebrate and what better time to do it?

Carbo worked the team on Easter Sunday but rewarded their recent achievements with a day off on Tuesday and only off-ice workouts on Wednesday. They'll get back on the ice on Thursday before heading to Buffalo for a Friday night showdown with the Sabres.

Loose Pucks: Carbonneau pointed out after the game that clinching the playoffs this early may open the door for some guys to get some rest. He said we would certainly see Patrice Brisebois and Mathieu Dandenault in the lineup before season's end. Don't be surprised if Jaroslav Halak gets the nod for either Friday or Saturday. Andrei Kostitsyn became the 6th Hab over the 50 point mark last night, Chris Higgins needs only two more points to be the 7th.

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