The message was clear during the intermission between the third period and overtime.
“If you’re afraid of losing, we’re going to lose. If you believe in your chances, if you believe we can win this game, our chances are very good. ”
And Claude Julien led his team by making the most of the talent and resources of its workforce. He had a very detailed game plan where everyone had a role to play.
He gave even more weight to this theory which he defends every day: “I do not identify my trios by numbers. »Are there several center players playing in a« supposed »fourth line who get 15:33 minutes of playing time and 23 appearances on the ice? Max Domi figured out what the coach had concocted to ensure all-time coverage of Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin.
It was quickly made clear to him that it was not only the mission of Phillip Danault, but that of Nick Suzuki and Domi. Everyone had to get their hands dirty. The strategy worked.
The other thing to remember: the Canadian has nothing to lose in this series. In fact, he finished the game schedule 15 points behind the Penguins. The Habs decision-makers are therefore taking advantage of this extraordinary forum, a series against the Penguins, to give their young players the opportunity to grow up by allowing them to live a unique experience. At the end of the day, there is always that lottery and the possibility of winning the first prize: Alexis Lafrenière.
“We are a young team. We coaches told them to jump on the ice, tap into their resources, compete against a team that has won the Stanley Cup three times. They have our support, and they also have the support of the veterans. “
Interesting words, but it is still necessary that the coach applies the established instructions. And Julien kept his word. Suzuki was an influential player in the first game of the series. Well served by his Olympian calm, he was impressive, especially on the shorthand, while Danault was in the penalty box. Playing time: 23 min 10 s.
Jesperi Kotkaniemi is an improved player and we used him almost 14 minutes.
Julien could not wish for a better scenario. In fact, this is the scenario he envisioned. The leaders of the defensive brigade, Shea Weber and Jeff Petry, with more than 30 minutes of play, who stand in front of the attack of the Penguins. Carey Price who appears as the real Carey Price. From the first moments of the match, he gave his teammates the clue they needed so that they wouldn’t suffer from any inferiority complex against the opponent.
The answer has come
And the response was quick. The Penguins directed 41 shots at Price, you will say, but was he worried? Not at all. Most of the time, he had a perfect view of everything that was going on in front of him. Very few veiled shots and not too much traffic in front of the net.
The Canadian added to the concerns Mike Sullivan and his squad had before the start of the series and even upon the announcement of the League’s invitation to eight teams to participate in a qualifying tournament. The Penguins had expressed their disagreement knowing that they would face Carey Price and a young team guided by a few seasoned veterans.
And Sullivan, like many coaches, doesn’t like playing a goaltender like Price in the first round or the qualifying round. And Sullivan must have looked at the statistics. On Saturday, the Penguins played their 11th straight playoff game without scoring more than three goals per game.