Maybe it’s the way the Canadiens lost in Boston Saturday night, combined with a lapse of long term memory that put the City of Montreal in a deep weekend depression. The Canadiens find themselves down 3-2 in the series and facing elimination coming home to the Bell Centre for Game Six Monday night.
This kind of situation has become very familiar to we who have spent years covering the Canadiens for the various media outlets in Montreal.
In fact, it’s the third time in the last four years that the Canadiens have had their opposition holding a 3-2 backs-to-the-wall stranglehold on them going into Game Six at the Bell Centre. On all three occasions the Canadiens were able to win and extend the series to a Game Seven on the road where they won twice.
In 2011 against Boston, the Canadiens came home after losing the series’ fifth game 2-1 in double overtime. At home the Canadiens edged the Bruins 2-1 on a Brian Gionta power play goal and a 31 save performance from Carey Price. It took overtime for the Bruins to win that seventh game at home and that propelled them to the Stanley Cup.
In 2010 the Canadiens, after coming from behind to edge Washington in the seventh game of the first round, trailed Pittsburgh 3-2 going into the Bell Centre for Game 6 of the Eastern Conference Semi-final. They beat the Penguins 4-3 at home to send it back to Pittsburgh where the Habs won 5-2 to take the series.
Over the last ten years the Canadiens have been involved in six seven-game playoff series. They’ve won five of them. Along with the seventh game win over Washington in 2010 they also had a 3-1 lead on Boston in 2008 and let it slip away before beating the Bruins 5-0 in Montreal in the deciding game. In 2004, again versus Boston, they lost Game 6 at home before winning the series with a 2-0 shutout in Game 7 in Boston.
The point of it all of this is; while the Canadiens are again on the brink, history tells us they have been comfortable under the pressure of elimination.
Monday night and possibly Wednesday, we’ll find out whether history repeats.