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The Chicoutimi Cucumber

Mitch Melnyk Blog: Season-ender

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I like this - especially the remarks about Koivu.

From Team 990 website: http://www.team990.com/phpBB2/viewtopic.php?t=213

Tuesday May 2 10:40 PM (Bell Centre)

They mostly spoke the right words:

"We showed a lot of guts"

"It``s hard to swallow"

"We believed we could win"

The Canadiens had just lost their fourth consecutive one goal game to the Carolina Hurricanes. While they did play well and one or two were visibly upset, this good but far from great team ("The best dressing room we``ve had since I``ve been here" said Sheldon Souray) still has a lot to learn.

Enter Bob Gainey: "One goal games are easy to hide behind. That`s two goals away from winning and two goals is a lot in the NHL"

The tendancy now will be to look back at a good season. The Habs made the playoffs. Whoopi. And they took an oponnent that set a franchise record for most points in a season to six games in a hard fought series. But Gainey knows better. He knows that if more players cared about every shift, every game-as he once did on the ice-they`d be moving into the next round.

I suppose it`s a learning process. But once you`ve won a championship, or 11 (Gainey, Jarvis, Carbonneau) you know there`s a large gap between satisfaction and mission:accomplished.

Take Andrei Markov, for example. The Habs best defenseman all season. Perhaps their worst defenseman in the post season. It`s all about taking your game to the next level. The realization, as Gainey put it in regard to Markov, that "I can do more, I``m better than this"

Mike Ribeiro tried tonight. He tried hard. That he couldn`t beat Cam Ward is not disturbing. What is disturbing is that for the last month he couldnt put the puck past Sela Ward.

In 17 career playoff games Ribeiro has two goals. Since he has, at various times during the season, complained about what he called unfair media treatment, I can only assume that he spent some time over the last two weeks reading about Rob Brindamour. The Hurricanes captain has a work ethic second to none. And it doesn`t stop when the game or season does. If Ribeiro can follow Brindamour`s example, he can become a useful offensive weapon. If not, Mike Ribeiro`s career could mirror Paul DiPietro`s. Without the Cup.

I like Alex Kovalev. I like watching him skate. I like watching him practice. I love listening to him talk. Tonight especially.

When reminded that following game five in Raleigh, Bob Gainey suggested (and re-iterated tonight) that Kovalev could play better, the Habs winger responded "That`s nothing new. I`ve heard that my whole career. I never get any credit when we win and it`s my fault when we lose"

But Kovalev resisted the temptation to fire back at Gainey.

Kovalev, like most artists, is very tough to read on many nights. But coach Gainey did not do GM Gainey any favours by placing him alongside Ribeiro and Jan Bulis. A talent like Kovalev deserves better. I wonder why, for example, Gainey didn`t move Kovalev alongside Thomas Plekanic at some point. Plekanic was clearly the Habs best centerman once Saku Koivu went down and may have just delivered the knockout blow to Ribeiro`s Montreal career.

Which brings us to the moral of this story. It doesn`t matter anymore whether fans or members of the media dislike, dis-respect or just plan dis Saku Koivu. What`s quite clear, with a track record to back it up, is unlike some guys who melt as the snow does, Koivu heats up at playoff time. And now it`s on the books, forever. A two game series lead with a one goal lead in game three with him. Four straight one goal losses without him. One of the league`s top five power plays with him. A punchless power play without him.

Ten years ago it looked like Koivu was the second coming of Henri Richard. Leading the league in scoring before ripping up his knee. Losing at least a step in the process. But still an effective force and one heck of a playmaker. No Pocket Rocket but still a chance to become the Finnish version of Doug Gilmour. More serious injuries. Cancer. More comebacks than Cher. And then Justin Williams` high stick.

Koivu might never be fully embraced by this city but he fully embraces IT. I hope this series loss magnifies his true value to the Canadiens, and by extension, to Montreal.

There would be no talk of `how proud we are" to lose an opening round playoff series in six games. Certainly not a winnable one.

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I love you man GO SAKU KOIVU WOOT WOOT U RICH FINNISH HOCKEY PLAYER , I SAW HIM ON TV WITH CHANNEL SUN GLASSES WHAT A RICH KID :)

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I love you man GO SAKU KOIVU WOOT WOOT U RICH FINNISH HOCKEY PLAYER , I SAW HIM ON TV WITH CHANNEL SUN GLASSES WHAT A RICH KID :)

?

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What? That was crystal-clear and sensical! :rolleyes:

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