Last night, the Montreal Canadiens defeated the Pittsburgh Penguins 5-2, knocking them out of the playoffs and considerably moving up the tee-times for the Pens players. Although it was an awful loss for the Pens, it does provide some nice historical continuity- since the Penguins will be playing at a new arena next year, it was the last Penguins game to be played at home. Interestingly enough, it was Montreal that defeated the Penguins in their first home game on October 11th, 1967 (Habs won 2-1.) I was seven months old at the time and can't recall that game very clearly, but the game last night has been burned into my psyche.
I actually have great fondness for the Canadiens. My family is originally from northern Maine, not far from Quebec, and I have spent a great deal of time on both sides of the border over the years. Montreal is one of my favorite places to visit and I look forward to spending more time in La Belle Province. That being said, I am a true homer and it was painful to watch the superstar laden Penguins being dismantled by an older, smaller and, on average, less talented team. The operative word, however, is team. Montreal's forwards played with a ferocious back check that stacked up the faster Penguins at the blue line and any Penguin who ventured near the Montreal crease was quickly smothered by Montreal's defense.
To paraphrase P.J. O'Rourke, old age and guile once again beats youth, innocence and a bad haircut.
So, I'll be cheering for Montreal for the rest of the series. I think they are balanced enough to make it all the way. I also have to cheer for them because they have my all time favorite sports mascot- Youppi. Youppi is the only sports mascot to have served in two leagues (he started out as the mascot for the now defunct Montreal Expos) and the only one, as far as I know, that has been ejected from a professional game. Youppi was thrown out of a Dodgers game in 1989 for annoying the hell out of Tommy Lasorda, something I have always greatly admired.