Sunday, April 20, 2008

The "Hub" of Hockey

I had an interesting weekend. After the game at the Bell Centre on Thursday night I was informed that I'd be shipping off to Boston for game 6. My friend and colleague James Murphy of is a native of Beantown and he offered me a place to stay so it was on. We left Montreal in the early afternoon of a gorgeous Friday afternoon from the Bell Centre where 5 000 rabid fight fans were waiting for the weigh-in prior to Saturday night's UFC 83.

The first part of the trip was slowed by traffic on the Champlain Bridge, which Murph speculated could be the result of inconsolable Habs fans jumping off of it. Very funny. We continued on to the border crossing and decided to pop into the Duty Free store to pick up some beers. Upon leaving the store and opening the trunk of his car, we realized the bellhop hadn't deposited Murph's suitcase into the trunk. After much intense debate, we decided to double back to Montreal and leave first thing Saturday morning.

Problem was, we had reached the point of no return, so while we waited in line to get into the States and then in another to return to the Great White North I was on the phone with radio station 1510 the Zone in Boston talking a little hockey and predicting a Boston victory in game 6 to force a game 7 in Montreal. I literally left Canada, entered the United States and then returned to Canada during the course of a telephone interview. Not what I would call a particularly promising start to the trip.

The next day we left as scheduled and after a few hours we arrived in Boston. Beautiful day but not much time to enjoy it. Murph hosts the fast hockey radio show on Saturday afternoons at 2 and we went straight from the car to the studio, located right on a gorgeous waterfront in the middle of a marina. The show was great, I had a chance to meet former NHLer Ian Moran who was co-hosting along with's Bob Snow and Brian Malone and hang out with those guys in studio for a great two-hour show that was a lot of fun to do.

After the show, it was straight to Murph's place in Dedham, a suburb if Boston to get freshened up and then we headed to the Garden for a quick bite (the buffet there is free, dangerous where members of the media are concerned).

The game was quite an experience. You've surely read all about it and saw it for yourself. The bottom line for me is that the Canadiens best players aren't playing their best.

They look tentative and tender. Andrei Markov is a fractured shell of his regular season self. Tomas Plekanec scored a highlight-reel goal but was otherwise unremarkable as his postseason woes continue. Alex Kovalev was a minus 3 and made a weak attempt at clearing the puck that became the game winning goal.

The Habs defence, rock solid for most of the season, allowed 17 third period shots and as a shell-shocked Carey Price said after the game, "left a lot of open ice out there".

Game 7 goes Monday night. Habs fans aren't optimistic and with good reason. Even Saku Koivu's return couldn't inspire this team to hold three separate leads.

RDS is reporting that Patrice Bergeron could play in game 7.

I expect the Habs to win. This is Carbo's time to shine and if the game is properly officiated and he can get through to his players about protecting the lead, the Habs will face either New York or Philadelphia in a second round showdown.

Carey Price has been making a name for himself all year, he will be better than Tim Thomas when it matters most.

Lineup changes? I'll leave that one up to Carbo.

Go Habs Go. Daddy needs a second round series.

People rag on Habs fans a lot. Prove them wrong by staying on the bandwagon.

Political differences aside, The fans at the Bell Centre sing O Canada louder than any rink in the country.