On Thursday, Habs head coach Michel Therrien went a familiar route in previewing his club’s second-round series against Tampa Bay — by positioning Montreal as the underdog.
Michel Therrien says the #habs are the “underdog” against Tampa.
— Chris Johnston (@reporterchris) April 30, 2015
“We’ve been underdogs since the start of the preseason. But, this group perseveres and works hard. They find a way.” – Michel Therrien
— Canadiens Montréal (@CanadiensMTL) April 30, 2015
Therrien said: “We are probably the only team with home ice advantage that is an underdog.” #Habs
— Bruce Garrioch (@SunGarrioch) April 30, 2015
To be fair, Therrien might have a point. The Habs went winless in five tries against the Lightning this season, securing just one of a possible 10 points (courtesy a 1-0 OT loss in mid-March.) Therrien also correctly pointed out that Tampa Bay was “the best offensive team in the league” this season, finishing first overall in goals per game (3.16).
But let’s be real here — Therrien’s remarks are mostly gamesmanship. And something we’ve seen before.
Last spring, he trumpeted his team as the decided underdog not just in the Eastern Conference Final against New York, but in the two previous rounds as well. Per the Toronto Sun:
“When we started the season, there were a lot of people not even putting us in the playoffs. Or, if they wanted to be polite, they’d give us the eighth spot,” Therrien said.
“We caused a surprise to make the playoffs. We caused a surprise against the Tampa Bay Lightning to win in four, and we caused a bigger surprise to beat the Boston Bruins.”
It seems Therrien’s message has trickled down to the players as well. Prior to Montreal’s opening-round series against Ottawa this year, winger Dale Weise suggested the Sens were the favored team.
“I think we’re the underdogs,” Weise said, per the Ottawa Sun. “They beat us three out of four times, they’re the hottest team in the NHL right now.
“I don’t see them as an underdog at all.”