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Bartlett: Character of the Canadiens put to the test

John Bartlett
5/20/2014 11:07:03 PM
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There is no doubt the Montreal Canadiens are facing adversity in the Eastern Conference Final. Yet heading to New York, the Habs remain positive as it all comes down to the one main ingredient that the organization has built its team on - character. And now it's being put to the test.

From Geoff Molson, to Marc Bergevin, to Michel Therrien and right through the dressing room, the Canadiens have preached character. While the belief of "No Excuses" still hangs on the dressing room walls, the main trait they has nearly become a motto has been character.

After the devastating news prior to Game 2 that Carey Price would not be available for the remainder of the series, Therrien said in his press conference that after everything Price had done for the team, it was time for the team to do something for him. Win. Win and give him a chance to return this season for a shot at the Stanley Cup.

While the Canadiens could have played the sympathy card and come out flat, they came out instead with a very strong performance in Game 2 but faced a storyline they themselves have cast on opponents several times during the season. That story is facing a hot goaltender. Lundqvist was outstanding with his 40 saves. It's a game the Canadiens must build on and convince themselves they can win on the road without Price.

The Habs have faced tough stretches earlier in the season, and found ways to bounce back. They will have to rely on their leadership and character to carry them through.

Playoff veterans like Daniel Briere have been through these situations before. In fact, the last time the Canadiens were in the Conference Final was in 2010 against Briere and the Flyers, where Philly used both Michael Leighton and Brian Boucher to roll into an improbable appearance in the Stanley Cup Final against Chicago.

Brian Gionta, Josh Gorges, Andrei Markov and Brandon Prust have all been through playoff experiences that can help in a leadership role to support the team through this adversity.

It's no secret that the Canadiens will need offensive production as well from Thomas Vanek, Max Pacioretty, Brendan Gallagher and Alex Galchenyuk to name a few. A perimeter shot with no traffic in front of Lundqvist isn't going to work. They'll need to drive the net, go back to the dirty areas and cause some traffic in front of the Rangers net.

P.K. Subban will also need to put some points on the board, and help ensure the Canadiens power play can take advantage of any chances they get.

It will take a full team effort, but the Habs have shown through the year they have the resiliency to battle through, and now that battle is on Broadway.

Teams with great character always find a way, and while it's not an easy task heading on the road trailing in the series, the opportunity is still there to change momentum back into Montreal's favour. The Habs now have to find a way to seize that opportunity.

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