Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports
The Montreal Canadiens, for the second time in four years, are moving on to the Eastern Conference final.
I’m still in a glory daze. I don’t know if it’s because of my ears still ringing from the Bell Centre or not, but it still hasn’t sunk in that the Canadiens are playing – with home ice advantage – in the Eastern Conference final.
It really was a textbook win for the Canadiens. Pretty similar to their 2010 Game 7 win against the Washington Capitals. Took an early lead, had a late one goal lead and a fourth line player scored to open a two goal lead with under three minutes left.
There’s something magical about Dale Weise and Daniel Briere. For the second time in two series-clinching wins, they hooked up for a goal in the opening three minutes. This time it was Briere finding Weise.
That set the tone. Tuukka Rask made at least three huge saves to keep the deficit at one while Carey Price did the same thing to keep the lead. It was almost like the Bruins physical game took more of a toll on them than it did Montreal.
A lot will – and should – be said about Briere’s Game 7 but let’s not discount another great Game 7 player in Canadiens captain Brian Gionta. Gionta had several great scoring chances and made an absolute great defensive play taking the puck away from a Bruin.
Being downtown Montreal yesterday was surreal. The city was peaceful as far as I saw (there have been arrests but nothing major) and it was just car horns and singing. Walking up De La Montagne was surreal. People came out of restaurants, bars and hotels to watch the stream of fans from the Bell Centre.
Once people stopped on Ste Catherine street, they started chanting and singing and you could still hear it all the way at Sherbrooke street. The city, as is the norm, has completely come together with this team which is so refreshing given the division and politics the city has gone through.
This feels different from 2010. That year, the Canadiens were happy-go-lucky and everything else was bonus. This is a team that has home ice advantage in the Eastern Conference final and might even be the favourite. How crazy has this season been?