Almost everything in the first round of the playoffs has gone the way of the Ottawa Senators. Whether this is a statement about refereeing, bounces or the way they have dictated the play so far this series is up to the reader. But either way the Senators have found some way to please the hockey gods and, as Cory Conacher pointed out, they are getting rewarded.
Now, after a Game 4 in Ottawa in which the Senators quite literally had every single bounce go their way they have received their biggest streak of luck yet. Canadiens starter Carey Price, who may have had his best game of the series in Game 4, has gone down with a groin injury and is expected to miss the rest of the round.
It is very possible that this injury was a long time in the building. Many will remember Price was injured in the intersquad game the Canadiens played for their fans before the season began. It is quite possible that it has been affecting him for some time before finally giving out. Either way Peter Budaj will take Price’s regular position between the posts for Game 5 which is a must win scenario for the habs.
Is this the final string to fall in a series of terrible playoff mishaps for the Montreal Canadiens? Possibly, but not necessarily. The Canadiens are not done yet but are going to need a heroic effort from the entire team if they intend to move on. Evidently, this starts with Budaj who will need to forget his performance in Game 4 overtime and put together a string of solid efforts. His record this season of 8-1-1 indicates that it is possible.
In fact, Budaj may be the rallying point that the Habs need to get back in this series. After all they have played far better in front of him than they have Price this season, a fact reflected in his record. But he is also not the only key to reclaiming their footing in the series. Quite simply, players like Michael Ryder, Max Pacioretty and David Desharnais need to be far better. If all three of those players can put together good performances on top of what the Habs already have it could swing the series.
PK Subban, another massive key to the Canadiens success, was saying all the right things in the media yesterday. His confidence is something that could resound within the walls of the Canadiens dressing room and provide inspiration. In fact his statement that the Canadiens are the better team may actually be true despite the fact that they are behind 3-1 in the series. For three of the four games they have been better and it is only thanks to Anderson that the Sens still have legs to stand on.
The Canadiens also have experience coming back from behind in the playoffs. They did so twice during 2010 against both the Capitals and the Penguins. In the Capitals series they were behind 3-1, while in the Penguins series they faced a 3-2 deficit. They also erased the same 3-1 deficit in 2004 against the heavily favoured Boston Bruins.
Price may be out, and saying it is a massive loss is an understatement. But the Habs are not done yet, look for plenty of hunger in Game 5.
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Photo Credit: Michael Miller, Wiki Commons,