Or: "My Habs Theory"
How could a team whose regular season style of play was so, to put it kindly, lackluster get so far in the playoffs? I mean, one month ago it almost looked like the Leafs were going to keep them from the playoffs -- the Leafs, fer cryin' out loud. How is it this team now looks like serious contender for The Stanley Cup?
My theory: coaching. The wiley Jacques Martin took note of how mind-numbingly, physically punishingly, beyond absurdly LONG the regular season is and made a point of keeping his team from over-exerting itself -- saving itself, if you will, for the playoffs.
The Habs' current style of play isn't going to earn them more than one Stanley, but it has certainly been a revelation to watch. Originally it maddened me to see how many shots on net the Habs were apparently content to allow, making the team look like a one-player phenomenon. Over the span of the playoffs, though, Martin has marshaled his team to keep the action pressed to the boards. While this does allow for more than a few stunningly clear shots on net, Halak is obviously up to the task of keeping them out. In another season or two it won't matter how good Halak is as a goalie (and he is proving himself to be the best in the league this season), the human body can't take that sort of puck-peppering without breaking down. But for this season, it will more than suffice.
In other divisions: I'm pleased to see San Jose get as far as they have, not just for sentimental reasons -- I like their style of play (what little I've seen of it: those West Coast games run pretty late). While I am certainly rooting for the Habs, it would not break my heart to see the Sharks battle it out with the Flyers for Stanley. All in all, this has been fun to watch.