Dominique Ducharme has been right here earlier than.
Properly, not proper right here – 3-0 within the Stanley Cup closing and knockout on house ice – however the Montreal Canadiens head coach stared on the similar excessive junior odds and managed to show the script round.
After dropping the primary three video games of their quarterfinal collection to the Quebec Remparts within the 2012 QMJHL playoffs, Ducharmes Halifax Mooseheads reacted with 2-1 and 3-2 wins to power Sport 6.
9 years later, in the summertime of 2021, the stakes are a lot larger when Montreal misplaced 3-0 to Tampa Bay Lightning, the defending scientific champions who solely need to turn out to be the second staff since 1999 to repeat it.
“We give it some thought”
Nonetheless, Ducharme’s overarching blueprint to return to this collection stays the identical.
“You may’t look too far forward,” he mentioned on Saturday. “Once you try this the mountain appears fairly excessive. There are steps you must observe. Step one is to win at house [Monday in Game 4]. Those that assume we’re simply going to go away do not actually know us. We are going to battle.
“We consider that.”
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The Canadiens are additionally contemplating methods to revert to a mode of play that solidified mid-round in opposition to the closely favored Toronto Maple Leafs and bought them on that unlikely playoff journey.
Montreal cleared a 3-1 gap in that collection by dealing with the puck, lastly taking his possibilities and counting on fidelity in his line-up.
The Canadiens then shocked the Winnipeg Jets with one swing – they gained seven competitions in a row with out ever falling behind at any level – and used the identical system in opposition to the Vegas Golden Knights within the semifinals.
However the 18th staff within the NHL through the common season shortened by the pandemic and the final to qualify for the playoffs seemed like this for a lot of the cup finals.
Montreal gifted Tampa with sloppy choices and psychological errors that merely weren’t made within the final month – plus grinding, methodical motion of their 6-3 defeat on the Bell Middle on Friday left and proper.
The Lightning took benefit of the lack to clear the puck and an pointless sport delay penalty early on to take a 2-0 benefit in Sport 3.
Montreal stabilized and minimize off the lead within the first break, however switched off once more within the opening section of the second by not bringing the puck deep when altering strains and producing a 2 in opposition to 0 within the different path, which was adopted by a 2- in opposition to 1 strike a couple of minutes later.
The Canadiens are cautious about making errors in opposition to an opponent riddled with talent and assassin-like precision, however do not rethink and tip-toe what really forces them to make the very errors they need to keep away from?
Ducharme doesn’t consider.
“We all know methods to handle [the puck]”He mentioned lower than 24 hours after returning to the financial institution after a 14-day absence with a constructive COVID-19 check. “There’s nothing to be mentioned about our will [in Game 3]. You simply want to seek out and take care of the fitting steadiness and correctly handle that power.
“Once you’re behind, you are inclined to push just a little extra and power just a little extra and also you play just a little bit riskier video games. The chance and the reward, typically you get just a little. “
“The most effective staff we have ever performed”
What labored within the first three rounds is now not the case. And Tampa – with the likes of Nikita Kucherov, Brayden Level, Victor Hedman, and Andrei Vasilevskiy – is doing its half to complicate issues.
“The most effective staff we performed in opposition to,” mentioned Ducharme whereas each golf equipment stayed off the ice because of an additional break day between video games. “Every thing we do is just a bit harder as a result of we play in opposition to staff. I do not assume dealing with the puck properly will get you in your heels since you do not need to make errors.
“It is simply good.”
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Lightning defender Ryan McDonagh mentioned Tampa positioned an emphasis on pace to throw Montreal off steadiness at each ends of the rink.
“Then we’re actually at our greatest: after we assault our opponents once they do not have a puck,” mentioned McDonagh, whose staff would be the first to win the ultimate for the reason that 1998 Detroit Pink Wings. “After we get away from it, we discover it instantly.
“After we’re at our greatest – when the puck is not on our stick – we use our pace to leap of their faces and attempt to disturb issues.”
Ducharme mentioned he’s contemplating adjustments to the line-up whereas his staff has their backs in opposition to the wall, however one change that’s firmly on the desk is Carey Value.
The previous Hart and Vezina Trophy winner is the principle cause Montreal is within the first closing since 1993, however he additionally has an unsightly 0.835 save share within the collection.
“Carey is the man who performs on Monday,” mentioned Ducharme. “You may discuss one or the opposite man. It is about us all. Now we have to be higher earlier than him. All of them. All 20 guys who placed on the jersey are searching for their finest sport on Monday evening.
“That is it.”
The issue is, their finest sport continues to be not ok.
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