On Habs fans and the booing of the anthem

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Last night, watching the Washington Capitals and Montreal Canadiens, I
was overwhelmingly impressed with the atmosphere created by the home
crowd. I’ve been to a game in Montreal before, and I was completely
blown away by how much their fans are into the game. There are no video
prompts, no music calling for noise or “defense” or anything like that.
The Habs fans are just simply LOUD.

Yet there are some downsides
to this amazing corner of fandom. The Canadiens fans are notorious for
instantly turning on their own team and frankly it makes it hard to
watch sometimes. The way Carey Price looked ready to just collapse at
home last summer under the pressure of the crowd and how various players
have itched to move on. It’s a tough place to place as a visitor; it
might be even harder if you’re a member of the team.

Last night, the
discussion around the game wasn’t just on the in-game atmosphere; no,
many were harping on how (some) Habs fans were booing during the United
States anthem pregame.

If you know anything about Habs fans, this
shouldn’t surprise you. If fact, it should be expected. Nonetheless,
it’s still a bit shocking when you hear it and it’s a conversation that
should never take place during a hockey game. But it does.

Dan
Steinberg of DC Sports Blog
makes a great point, though, saying we
shouldn’t really get that worked up over it.

Anyhow,
as far as things to get mad about on the Internet, this is
pretty far down my list. The Habs fans who boo are just role-playing at
this point, like American fans at a WWE event. Clearly it has nothing to
do with the actual hockey teams; the Canadiens have four Americans on
their roster, including key contributors like Hal Gill, Scott Gomez and
Brian Gionta. The Caps have the exact same number of U.S. players, and
actually have more Canadians than the Canadiens on their current roster.

The booing of the national anthem was quickly forgotten as the
Canadiens collapsed and the crowd became increasingly quiet and
agitated. I won’t speak specifically on the overall state of Canadiens
fans, since some of best hockey friends are Habs fans, but I will say
that it’s increasingly embarrassing for hockey overall when these sorts
of fan reactions get the most attention.

Pens coach praises Murray: ‘He doesn’t get rattled’

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Hot take: the Pittsburgh Penguins probably won’t deal with a goalie controversy going into Game 7.

(Ugh, that’s a failed hot take … you can’t use “probably” in those things, right?)

Matt Murray was fantastic at times during Game 6, much like his counterpart in the Tampa Bay Lightning’s net in a 5-2 win. Granted, there were some tense moments during the Bolts’ late-game push:

Much has been made about experience, especially from those calling for Marc-Andre Fleury earlier in this series. It’s telling that the praise Murray draws sure sounds like what you’d expect from a “veteran.”

“He has a calming influence,” Sullivan said. “He doesn’t get rattled. If he lets a goal in, he just continues to compete. That’s usually an attribute that usually takes years to acquire that, and to have it at such a young age is impressive.”

Thanks in part to Murray’s efforts in Game 6, he’ll get a chance to prove his resolve in something new: a Game 7 in the Eastern Conference Final.

Once again, his teammates seem pretty confident in this elimination situation.

Lightning lament Game 6 effort, Cooper doesn’t blame disallowed goal

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The Tampa Bay Lightning seemed to sleepwalk through the first two periods of Game 6, and waking up in the final frame wasn’t enough to edge the Pittsburgh Penguins.

On the bright side, at least the Lightning aren’t in denial about that weak first 40 minutes.

It seemed like everyone on the team more or less admitted as much in unison.

Brian Boyle added that he felt like the Lightning tiptoed around this game. Jon Cooper often provides great quips, yet he was pretty matter-of-fact in this case.

Many will linger on this disallowed goal for Jonathan Drouin, which would have provided a 1-0 lead for Tampa Bay in the first period.

Let’s face it; that moment came pretty early in the game. To Tampa Bay’s credit, they’re not pinning the loss on that setback.

Now they must set their sights on competing throughout Game 7 … and maybe earning some bounces of their own in the process.

Read more about Game 6 here.

Penguins force Game 7 after holding off Lightning rally

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The Pittsburgh Penguins played with fire late in Game 6, but they also showed plenty of fire in beating the Tampa Bay Lightning 5-2.

With that, this thrilling Eastern Conference Final will go the distance with Game 7 on Thursday.

There are at least a few “What if?” scenarios to consider, especially for the Lightning.

What if that offside goal counted?

Jonathan Drouin played some fantastic hockey on Tuesday, yet his most memorable moment came via something that ultimately “didn’t happen.” An offside call on a goal review kept a 1-0 lead from happening for Tampa Bay:

Instead, the Penguins poured it on during the first period and eventually went up 1-0. They then carried that momentum over through the second period, adding two more goals to go up 3-0 heading into the final frame.

What if Tampa Bay played more like they did in the third period?

The difference between the level of play in the first 40 minutes and the final frame were night-and-day.

Now, you can make a chicken-and-the-egg argument here. Did the Penguins take their feet off the gas with that lead? Maybe Jon Cooper finally unleashed the hounds when the Lightning were facing a big deficit?

Maybe it’s a combination of those factors; either way, the Bolts couldn’t come all the way back even after making it interesting. At one point the game was 3-2 before a Bryan Rust breakaway goal and an empty-netter put things out of reach.

Both Matt Murray and Andrei Vasilevskiy faced plenty of tough chances and came through more often than not. We’ll see if there are any goal controversy rumblings, but each netminder came through at times tonight.

***

Now the series shifts back to Pittsburgh for Game 7 with a Stanley Cup Final on the line. Excited and/or nervous yet?

More: Great goals by Sidney Crosby and Phil Kessel.

Sidney Crosby scores a superstar goal

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With the Pittsburgh Penguins’ season on the line in Game 6, plenty of eyes are on big guns Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, Kris Letang and Phil Kessel.

Those marquee names are really coming through so far as they’ve now built a 3-0 lead through two periods against the Tampa Bay Lightning.

You likely already saw Kessel’s display of high-end hand-eye coordination (if not, check it here). Kris Letang scored his first goal of the series to make it 2-0 on a very tricky, well-placed shot.

The highlight really might be Crosby’s tally, though. He left multiple Lightning players baffled and beat a very-much-game Andrei Vasilevskiy to beef that lead up 3-0.