A first validation of Marc Bergevin’s plan

Need was not. Not for the Canadiens general manager anyway, celebrating the decisive 3-1 victory for his squad who won their first-round series in seven games against the Maple Leafs. He ran into his young Toronto counterpart, Kyle Dubas, tightened his grip, he who must have had a bit tighter knuckles.

The disappointment, for Torontonians, is major, capital, gargantuan, titanic… and unfortunately not so surprising. There was so much at stake for the Leafs. The fact that they let the CH come back in the series has monopolized all the attention for the last 48 hours, so much so that it would have been almost easy to forget that the CH too was on trial. in this series.

This seventh game? The jury’s verdict. Often ruthless with the Habs, he showed great leniency on Monday night.

What had the organization sold at the start of the season? Sweaters and underwear, obviously, but more philosophically please. Hope, of course, the emotional and economic engine of sport and expectations, high said the monks of the CH, a team able to play all styles.

After four meetings, the disjointed and soporific style, it was crystal clear, was mastered to perfection. The others a little less.

A defeat in the first round, even honorable, because, say, occurred at the limit of seven meetings against Auston Matthews and Mitch Marner, two players with a certain talent, would probably not have been enough to appease the taste of the blood of a branch. of the partisan base.

Not after the CH itself hinted that it had the weapons to go all the way.

Bergevin was playing big and this snatch victory offered him relief, time and perspective.

It also validates, to a certain point, the plan he has been trying to put together since 2018: the reset. The idea that his young generation will hatch in time to benefit from a Carey Price still weightless and that this amalgamation finally completed will bring prosperity and success to the CH. Bold, risky, but that’s the bet. He paid in the last ten days.

Price flew over the series. On Monday morning, Eric Staal had said that no player would ever admit that a goalkeeper intimidates him, but his smirk suggested that, in fact, it is possible.

Carey Price made 7 saves in the first half. He has conceded 14 goals since the start of the series, posting a .926 save rate.

Photo : usa today sports / Dan Hamilton

Matthews finished with a small goal; Mitch Marner, none. Both have scored 61 in the season, a third of the team’s total offensive production. One goal in 54 shots from the two stars combined. A conversion rate of 1.9% …

Matthew has scored 18.5% of his shots in season and Marner has scored 12.8%. There’s a bit of bad luck in that obviously, but it was more than that. The presence of the goalkeeper, his calm, his profession of faith to his team after game three, were intimidating.

Any other numbers to make the Leafs partisan brother-in-law shudder? Toronto has lost all eight games in which it could have eliminated the opponent since 2013. Matthews and Marner have played seven of their eight games and, again, have a goal to two. Two assists for Marner, a differential of -5; one goal and two assists for Matthews, a differential of -5.

On Monday, he repelled the assaults, 29 in total. Whether William Nylander on the power play or Matthews in a two-on-one descent. Hyman knocked on the door dangerously twice and the Anahim Lake doorman was intractable.

It’s Carey. His attitude. When we scored, we almost knew that was enough, that he was not going to give it. It’s so easy to play in front of him. I’ve never seen it so good

A quote from:Brendan Gallagher on Carey Price

Of course, when you have a goaler who fights incredibly every night, even when you are not on the boat. When he said that in the media, it gave our team energy and confidence. It’s a pat on the back. I am behind you. Let’s go. It was a big statement. Everyone looked at each other in the mirror and thought they could give more, dropped Phillip Danault.

The famous depth

Perhaps the most telling statement came from the mouth of Maple Leafs coach Sheldon Keefe.

When (Jesperi) Kotkaniemi and (Cole) Caufield entered their roster, things changed in terms of their depth, speed and skill., a dit Keefe.

These are the two players that Ducharme was reluctant to launch into the fray at the start of the series for various reasons. The Finn, because of his atrocious end of the campaign, the young American, because he was a little too green for his liking.

An injury to Evans opened the door for Kotkaniemi, another at Staal opened the door for Caufield. The two young people have not left the ranks. Kotkaniemi has scored three goals in six games. Caufield impressed with his composure and his sense of the game.

In five games, despite amassing only one assist and getting paid to rack up the points, Ducharme still used it for an average of 17 minutes per game, the fourth total of all forwards at the club. The 20-year-old right-winger stood out for his dynamic skating, his intelligence of the game, his keen sense of responsibility: all question marks at the base. We knew his throw, but we wondered about the rest.

It’s finally okay.

Nick Suzuki, too, scored the game-winning overtime goal in Game 5 and picked up color as the series wore on. Another good sign for this beautiful youth.

Alexander Romanov is still chomping at the bit today, but who will have the courage to criticize Ducharme for not having launched him into action?

Safe values

And then the veterans did their job. The defense held on, folded without breaking.

Danault managed to muzzle Matthews, as he did with Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin last year in the bubble. Gallagher was proud as a peacock that a question was asked about his center player.

I have so much respect for Phil. He loves this challenge. He had the biggest smile on his face after the game. He doesn’t mind the points, he just wants to win. Hope everyone realizes how important he is to this team, argued the little number 11.

Gallagher may have gotten used to the idea that he was going to lose the left winger of his trio who have been one of the National League’s brightest for the past three years, but he doesn’t seem to be. resigned to saying goodbye to the Quebecer.

This kind of declaration of love from the one we identify as the heart and soul of the team will surely not go unheeded. Danault will be a free agent without compensation, let us remember, if he does not sign a new agreement with the Canadian by July 1. At least there are those who would like to see him stay.

Experience also spoke. Shea Weber, Corey Perry and Eric Staal all gave a little speech before Game 4. Casually, Staal and Perry have scored four points in the series and are tied for second in scorers for the club.

Corey Perry scored the Canadiens second goal to double the Habs lead.

Photo: The Canadian Press / Nathan Denette

It was a team victory. A mix of youth and experience – Perry also scored the game-winning goal on Monday night – and the dominant performance of the team’s most talented player, the one whose job it is to push back pucks.

Can the Canadian repeat the feat in Winnipeg. He goes there overnight from Monday to Tuesday and will play on Wednesday while the Jets have been resting since May 24.

We appreciate this evening, assured Ducharme. We have a day in Winnipeg to rest and prepare. At the same time, it can work on both sides. O has a certain momentum versus a relaxed team. It’s an advantage to be rested, it’s an advantage to have the momentum. We’re getting ready tomorrow for Wednesday. We appreciate the moment tonight.

Bergevin too must appreciate. He certainly doubted his plan. He is perhaps a little reassured.

 
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