A Tale of Two (Losing) Cities.

It’s been 2 weeks since the Habs were eliminated and beaten soundly by the Ottawa Senators. The horde of Habs’ haters out there finally rejoiced after spending a majority of the season scratching their hands and stroking their evil beards with nothing to say as the Habs played inspired and competitive hockey. Alas, Prust wore down, something happened to Price, Emelin tried to hit Lucic, and we needed something that smelled rotten in the state of Denmark to wake up Eller after Gryba annihilated him. Needless to say the Habs’ cinderella season struck midnight, the beanstalk sprouted to the heavens and the giants came out for the playoffs. (I’m not sure how many more fairy tale references I should be allowed to include. I blame impending fatherhood)

Well here is my dirty little secret: if you were able to take a peek at my pre-playoff picks, you’d have seen the following:

– Ottawa Senators over the Montreal Canadiens in 6 games.

Hold on now…before you call me a traitor or accuse me of not being a “real fan”. I’m a sports fan, and I enjoy occasionally gambling on sports. I’m also a die hard Habs’ fan, so you can argue I hedged my emotions against my financial gain. Realistically though, given all the reasons mentioned above (except Eller, who got hurt in Game 1) the Habs’ were going to be in tough regardless. Throw in the fact that the Sens got back a Norris trophy winning defenseman just before the playoffs, and that they were getting hot at the right time. It was a no brainer to pick them to win. I wasn’t going out on a the limb here, most “experts” had the Sens ahead on the scorecard. So there you have it, an amazing season ends with a resounding thud.

I think once the disappointment wears off, most Habs’ fans will look back on this season as a watershed moment for the franchise. For the first time in years we have a franchise defenseman, a franchise centerman, and yes – a franchise goaltender (spare me the Price hate for now, I’ll address it in a future post and you can all tell me how much he sucks). Along with several other impact players under the age 25 and 6 picks in the first 3 rounds of the upcoming draft; the Habs are positioned well for the future. If Bergevin plays his cards right, and with a little luck, this could be a contending team sooner than later.

Nonetheless it was a disappointing way to end the season. Ottawa exposed our lack of size and polished us off in 5 games with 6-1 drubbing. Honestly I wasn’t that sad after game 5 was over. Sure I would have preferred NOT losing by 5 goals but ultimately the game 4 loss, in which we led by 2 for most of the game, was way more devastating. To give up a tying goal with less than a minute left in the game and then lose in OT. Well…I’m pretty sure I threw a coffee table. I was legitimately crushed and heart broken. At one point I compared the feeling to having my heart broken by my first girlfriend. Instead off throwing on some torn jeans, a plaid shirt and smoking a pack cigarettes while listening to Black by Pearl Jam. I simply moped around a bit until my pregnant wife reminded me that she’s going through way more “pain” and we went home.

Ultimately, the Habs had no real shot at winning this series, especially after Eller got his bell rung. With Pacioretty and Prust banged up, we lost even more size and jam which was lacking in the first place. Even with that knowledge and lowered expectation, it is always difficult when your team loses and I was feeling bad for myself and other true Habs fans…until game 7 of the Leafs and Bruins series.

Truth be told, I dislike both teams…a lot. Despite that, I found myself cheering for the Bruins to advance. So with ten minutes left in the game I resigned myself to the fact that the Leafs would upset the Bruins. I’d have to listen to all sorts irrational, idiotic, overconfident trash talk from from my Toronto based friends for a year.

We all know what happened.

As Leafs’ fans planned the parade route down Yonge street, the Bruins woke up. I was alerted to the fact that the score was 4-3 by text, and turned the channel just in time to see the tying goal. I waited through the intermission, while my wife questioned why I was watching a game featuring two teams whose jerseys I would most likely use to start a bonfire or clean the toilet with. When the Bruins won the game I was happy for them but probably more happy that the Leafs didn’t win. After receiving and sending 44 messages in 18 seconds on my phone. I sat down and for a moment and I thought of the Leafs’ fans…

..and I felt bad. It was brief, but I felt bad.

If you base this game on Bill Simmons “Levels of Losing” scale (http://sports.espn.go.com/espn/page2/story?page=simmons/071001) it is most certainly a Level 3 “Stomach Punch”, with a dose of Level 4 “The Guillotine”, and Level 5 “The Broken Axle”.

Trust me, there isn’t a worse way to lose in sports or a worse feeling then what a Leafs’ fans went through during game 7. However, like the Habs’ fan they love to hate, their team had a good season. I think once the disappointment wears off, Leafs’ fans should be able to look back on this season and feel good about the team and optimistic about the future…

…it might just take a little longer. (and a lot of alcohol)

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