Habs celebration Montreal Canadiens June 7

Photo by Cindy Lopez

Starting to feel like ’93 as the Habs get set for their biggest challenge yet

“There’s no denying the very special feeling around town — a palpable excitement.”

Fireworks, chanting and the hoisting of traffic cones were all part of the electric atmosphere in downtown Montreal on Monday night, as the Canadiens completed their four-game sweep of the Winnipeg Jets.

Over the past two weeks, the Habs have gone from a team nearly everyone counted out to being crowned the kings of the North Division. It has been quite the roller coaster for fans, media, and players alike. 

“It kind of feels like nobody believes in us,” said forward Tyler Toffoli, who scored the series-winning goal in overtime.

 “The only people we have are ourselves and our fans, which clearly the small amount of them in the building sounded like there were a lot more than what it was, behind us. So we’re sticking together, we’re playing as one, we’re winning games and we’re having fun.”

The seed of this incredible run was planted in game 5 against the Maple Leafs. The Canadiens, down 3-1 in the series, won in overtime, leading to a major shift in momentum that allowed them to take the series in seven. The team slammed its foot on the gas pedal and they haven’t let go since, winning their next four games without much trouble.

The key to the team’s success has been their playing as a collective unit. The offensive chemistry of all four lines backed by an unforgiving, shut-down defensive crew have made the Canadiens virtually unstoppable. And even when they find themselves in hot water, Carey Price (1.97 GAA, .935 SV%) has been there to save the day. Some might call it luck, but the numbers don’t lie. 

Speaking of numbers, 437 — that’s how many consecutive minutes the Canadiens have played without trailing in these playoffs. They are the only team to do so in the modern era , and only second on the all-time list behind the 1960 Canadiens. Former NHL goalie and Quebec native Martin Biron also shared another historic parallel on Twitter:

Starting to feel like ‘93 as the Habs get set for their biggest challenge yet

For fans like myself who were not around for the Canadiens last Stanley Cup win in 1993, we can only imagine what it feels like to win a championship. While we saw some deep runs back in 2010 and 2014, a parade on Ste-Catherine has always seemed worlds away. But there’s no denying the very special feeling around town — a palpable excitement. And for the first time in a long time, the city is crazy about the Habs.

Habs Montreal Canadiens
Montreal Canadiens 1993

While the Canadiens have been underdogs in the first two rounds, the semi-final will present a much larger challenge. Montreal will face off against either the Colorado Avalanche or the Las Vegas Golden Knights in round 3. Both powerhouse teams finished the 56-game season with 82 points each and they don’t seem to be slowing down. Fortunately, the Habs have some time to rest while they await their opponent.

But no matter what happens next week, this has been a glorious and completely unexpected journey full of positives.

 Hopefully, the underdog story can continue. I for one am not ready for the party to end. ■

For the Montreal Canadiens game schedule, please visit the team’s official website.

For more Montreal sports coverage, visit our Sports section.