With Max Pacioretty scoring a late goal last night to lead Montreal to a fourth straight win over the Tampa Bay Lightning, the Canadiens were the first team to advance to the second round of the NHL playoffs. A few stray notes from the happy city on the morning after:
• Along with all those expectant fans, Montreal’s police were standing by for victory last night … with riot gear. “In past years,” The Gazette noted, “when the Canadiens advanced to the second round of the playoffs, celebrations on the street turned violent.”
• The Catholic Church in Montreal is encouraging fans to support their annual fundraising drive at www.laflammadesseries.ca. For as long as the Canadiens stay in the hunt, the faithful can donate a dollar and light a virtual candle in aid of the Canadiens’ playoffs hopes.
• In La Presse, under the headline
Le retour des Glorieux?
Philippe Cantin’s column wasn’t waiting for the end of the game to wonder whether Montreal’s salad days are in sight again.
• Raymond Pacioretty was at last night’s game, watching his son in person for only the second time this season. Pacioretty the younger hadn’t been scoring, and as he told Pat Hickey of The Gazette, having his dad on hand was a help. “He’s always been supportive and he always says the right things, and he calmed me down tonight. He said: ‘You’ve scored 39 goals this year and maybe you should be more confident.’ I had no confidence. I was hitting posts, missing breakaways, missing empty nets. It shows that the difference between scoring goals and not scoring goals is so mental.”
• At Le Journal de Montréal, Réjean Tremblay was ready to book the Bell Centre anthem-singer for round two:
Let’s get to the big question. Yes, it must be Ginette Reno at the Bell Centre for the Canadiens’ first home match against Boston Bruins or Detroit Red Wings.
• Would it be rude to mention how much teams have, historically, enjoyed being swept out of the playoffs by the Habs? Well, maybe enjoyed isn’t the right word. It is true that when teams lost to those magnificent Canadiens’ teams of the 1970s, their coaches knew that they’d been beaten by a superlative bunch. Here’s Leafs’ coach Roger Nielson after Toronto lost their semi-final in four straight in to the eventual Cupwinners:
“Nobody likes to lose, but if you have I’d rather lose to a great team like the Canadiens.”
In 1976, they swept the Cup incumbents from Philadelphia in the Final. Frank Brown from The Associated Press described the scene after the Habs clinched the deal with a 5-3 away win:
Through the crush of newsmen, tired but happy hockey players and the usual number of hangers-on, a youth pushed his way up to Montreal Canadiens Coach Scotty Bowman and handed him an envelope.
The emissary was Rejean Shero whose father’s hockey team, the Philadelphia Flyers, had just relinquished the Stanley Cup.
Bowman, squeezed for space, opened the envelope and read the words: “Congratulations on such a fantastic season,” it said. “You’re truly champions — not only of the league, but of the world.”
The letter was signed, “Fred.”
Amidst sweaty uniforms, equipment discarded for the final time this National Hockey League season and standing on a floor doused by champagne, the Canadiens’ coach looked that boy and said, “Thanks.”
Rejean was thirteen at the time. Now 51, he works, of course, as GM of the Pittsburgh Penguins, where he answers to Ray.