12 teams do not make the post season, 15 playoff teams will all be eliminated, it takes 16 victories to hoist the Stanley Cup and, as long as you do not lose 4 games in any one series, you are still alive. So fear not Hab or Canuck fans, your respective seasons, while admittedly dangling by a thread, are not over yet. My advice? Put in a productive office day, warn your co-workers that you might be potentially grumpy tomorrow (either from 'staying up too late on a school night' or being angered by your team's elimination) and get comfortable, as tonight's matches are not games to be missed. Montreal won 5 games while facing elimination last season before eventually falling to the Philadelphia Flyers. Do you remember how many goals they gave up in those games? 8! This translates into a 1.6 goals against per game and reason for extreme optimism for the Bell Centre faithful. Vancouver's recent history in the past two seasons is well documented and provides little comfort. Same opponent, three games, one win and two very lopsided losses.
Boston vs Montreal
Canadien players might want to send a thank you card to Lady Gaga and her little monsters. Due to Monday's scheduling conflict with the pop princess, Montreal was given an additional night to regroup from Saturday night's overtime loss in Boston. In order for Montreal to win, they will need some scoring support for Michael Cammalleri and another strong game from Carey Price. Outside of Cammalleri, Montreal does not have a scorer with more than 3 points and they need someone to step up if they want to keep this series alive. Look for Tomas Plekanec and Brian Gionta to provide some scoring support and for Montreal to come out flying in the first period. On the other hand, Boston has every reason to be confident heading into game 6. Tim Thomas is frustrating Montreal's shooters and they are getting balanced secondary scoring. I'm going to start Milan Lucic tonight despite his lack of offensive production through the first five games. Lucic is due for a multi point game and I like his physical presence trying to slow down the speedy Canadiens.
My Star Selector Starting Five:
Chicago vs Vancouver
Where do we start with this one? I could lead off detailing Alain Vigneault's game 6's goaltending decision, but that horse has been beaten. Maybe the impact of David Bolland's return in game 4, Mike Gillis' predictable officiating rant or Vancouver blowing a 3 - 0 series lead? Each of these plot lines could carry an entire preview article on their own. Actually, I'm going to write about the player who is going to lead the Canucks to an improbable game 7 victory (besides, I do not want to waste my postmortem material if the Hawks complete the comeback). Truth is, there has been way to much coverage dedicated to Vancouver's goaltending situation and not nearly enough on the lack of offensive production contributed by Henrik Sedin and Ryan Kesler. In order for Vancouver to win tonight they will need their best players to lead the way at both ends of the ice, and I expect these guys to do just that. Vancouver outplayed Chicago Sunday night and have the opportunity to avoid one of the biggest collapses in playoff history. Chicago is salivating at the opportunity of completing the playoff series hat trick, and making it even sweeter by doing it in Vancouver. Duncan Keith has been outstanding and Corey Crawford continues to provide steady goaltending. Vancouver will come out strong tonight and play desperate hockey, so loading up with some Canucks and Corey Crawford (if you think he will shut them down) will be a good strategy to get you on the top of the leaderboard.
My Star Selector Starting Five