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Canadiens take heart from upsets

Bruce Boudreau said Thursday morning that he was glad the Caps had a day to watch higher seeded NHL teams get upset, to open up their minds, and keep them on the straight and narrow, or something. The Canadiens said they were also beneficiaries; that watching all the lower seeds win on Wednesday had reinforced their confidence, or something. Hey, they're just trying to pass the time until the game, like the rest of us.

"I think you realize when it comes to playoffs that the rankings, the home team, whoever's supposed to win, I don't think any of that really matters once playoffs come," Josh Gorges said. "I think both teams want it so bad on any given night anything can happen, and the team that wants it more usually comes out on top. You saw it last night, some of the lower-seeded teams won, and I think they came out well prepared....I think it goes to show that if we show up and play the way we can, we have a chance."

"It's been talked about," said Mike Cammalleri. "I don't think it is anything new to anybody, but it reaffirms to you that anything can happen, anybody can beat anybody in this league. And there were interesting turnouts to the games last night."

So then someone asked if he had watched.

"I should stop my next comment," he said, but then continued anyhow. "It's just disappointing to me that when you're in Philadelphia staying at a [big-name] hotel, you can't get the NHL playoffs. That's just disappointing. It happened to me last year, too."

Now, why did Cammalerri say Philadelphia? I have no earthly idea. The Habs definitely stayed in Washington on Wednesday night. I'd try to start a controversy about this, but then Boudreau would yell at me. Regardless, he shares your frustration at the U.S. TV package.

Anyhow, Montreal Coach Jacques Martin was also asked about the upsets, and said some words about it.

"Look at the parity of this league now," Martin said. "You look at last year, for instance. I think both conference finals last year were five games, while in the preliminary series we saw a lot of [series] go seven. So it's an indication of the parity, the pressure on teams that are supposed to win, and how close each team is."

Like March Madness

Basically, every player in the dressing room was asked this question. Repeatedly, in some cases.

"if underdogs are winning, then we're definitely gonna win," Hal Gill finally cracked. "It's automatic. Those other games said it all. No, we've got a new game here, a new series. They're gonna come out hard, I'm sure of it. We just have to come out a little harder."

As for Boudreau, he previously compared this to playing on the first Friday in the NCAA tournament.

"I keep thinking of it as March Madness," he said on Wednesday's Mike Wise Show. "Notre Dame losing on the first day, now the teams that are the 5 seed going against the 12 seed know that you can't take teams lightly. You get a chance to see it, and you get a chance to see how good the 8 seeds are against the 1 seeds. It might be a little bit more of a help to us than a hindrance, I think."

Too Much Crowd?

Boudreau also said that visiting teams have a Game 1 advantage because the home team is overexcited by the crowd. And Montreal said not so, my friend, not so.

"What you hear from Boudreau is they're trying to really prepare themselves and play it down as much as possible, but I'm sure in their room they're excited and energized about playing at home," Cammalleri said. "I wouldn't expect anything else out of their comments, but I wouldn't read too much into that."

"You can harness the energy of the building, you can let it overwhelm you," Gill said. "That's why we play the games."

Halak Starting

Duh.

Martin was asked if the fact that his goalie didn't start against the Caps during the regular season is an advantage, since they don't have a book on him.

"I don't think that's a factor," he said. "I think that I believe in both our goal-tenders, and it just fell that way, that Carey played all four games against this hockey team and Jaro in the end played really well for our team."

Other Stuff

There were two security guards preventing media members from approaching the Montreal dressing room during morning skate. That was new to me.

"It's the playoffs," one said, by way of explanation. "That's why we're here."

Also, Martin's press conferences are bi-lingual, which is a new one to me. I feel like I've been deprived all these years by press conferences in just one language. Boudreau better step up his game, and yell at media members in multiple languages from now on.

By Dan Steinberg  |  April 15, 2010; 1:39 PM ET
Categories:  Caps , Media  
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Next: How the Caps have changed D.C.

Comments

These guys have been trying to convince themselves all week that that they equal to a 121 point team as the #8 seed.

I am still not convinced that they have convinced themselves.

I love these 'the highest scoring team hasn't won a Cup since' BS, but the fact remains exceptional teams like the 1992 Penguins and 1983 Oilers DID in fact win the Cup by being a team with an aggressive mentality.

Montreal players want to point to other factors because they don't dominate this matchup in any regard.

Their offense is not outstanding. Their defense is not outstanding. And their goalie has been starting for less than half a season.

Talk about a team that is HOPING to hang around for a few games.

Posted by: leopard09 | April 15, 2010 2:29 PM | Report abuse

First?

Night two will not be like night one of the playoffs. The Caps will crush Montreal. The Hawks will do likewise to Nashville.

Unlike others (Pens) who coasted perilously through the end of the season, the Caps both coasted, rested, AND won the "big games" where they had to send a message down the stretch. They've been chomping at the bit for awhile now.

Kinda reminds me of my days in Tampa, after the Bolts took out the 8th seeded Islanders in five, and had a full week to "rest" ahead of a matchup with the 7th seeded...Canadiens.

Game 1: Bolts 4, Habs 0. Forty shots for the Bolts. Series? Four-game sweep. Ghosts of Montreal? None.

Tonight: Caps 4 or more, Habs 1. Three-nil after the first period. Write it down :)

Posted by: wxdancer | April 15, 2010 2:30 PM | Report abuse

Putting aside Cammalleri's confusion over the city he is in, that is an important point, unfortunately, about the NHL's contract with Versus. Last year, game three of the Caps-Pens series in Pittsburgh, and I had a work-related meeting at the Capital Hilton downtown, some 12-15 blocks from the Verizon Center. The game was only on Versus, and so I got to the Hilton a half-hour early to catch the first period of the game. Walked into the bar, asked the bartender to turn on the game, she said she'd be happy to (and was interested in the game herself), but after checking the channels and asking another bartender we realized they couldn't get Versus. Ended up going across K Street to the sports bar/gentlemen's club to watch the first 20 minutes of the game.

Posted by: TheFingerman | April 15, 2010 2:37 PM | Report abuse

Game 2 is the most important game of the series.

In NHL history, through 2008 playoffs, Game 2 winners who lost Game 1 have gone 127-113 (52.9 percent) in a 7 game series. Teams that have won Game 1 but lost Game 2 have gone 113-127 (47.1 percent). In other words, it's much more important to win Game 2 than to win Game 1.

Last night's losers shouldn't be too worried unless they lose again in game 2. Fans shouldn't be too worried if their team loses Game 1 unless they also lose Game 2.

Teams that have won both games to go up, 2-0, have gone 254-37 -- 87.2 percent.

Posted by: dcstranger | April 15, 2010 2:56 PM | Report abuse

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