Habs Should Win One for the Tampa Bay Mayor!

Tampa looks to wrap up the series at home tonight. The Seattle Kraken add to their coaching staff. Patience with Romanov helps Habs.

Never say never.

That has to be the Canadiens theme as they prepare for Game Five of the Stanley Cup Final.

It was the Toronto Maple Leafs mantra in 1942.

That was the spring when Detroit held a three games to none lead over the Leafs.

Toronto's coach Hap Day made a few daring changes -- scratched his top scorer, Gordie Drillion and best D-man Bucko McDonald -- and the Red Wings went down, one, two, three, four in a row.

It never happened again in a Final round and is unlikely to happen again -- Never.

That is unless you zero in on the manner of upset after upset after upset Montreal's unlikely heroes have pulled off so far. 

And speaking of upset -- as in me being upset with the outrageous suggestion made by Tampa Bay mayor Jane Castor that it would be neat if the Bolts lost Game Four

This would enable Her Royal Highness to have a Cup celebration in Florida after her -- hoped for -- favorite team wins tonight at Amalie Arena.

Personally, I hope that the Habs ruin her plans.

As for the chances of a second victory for the Northern invaders; not likely because the Champs still are the Champs. Until further notice, the Game four loss in Habtown was merely a question of the Law of Averages catching up to Jon Cooper's team.

Then again, perhaps the Law of Foolish Remarks will catch up to Mayor Castor and more miracle seeds will be planted at Bell Centre!

HEADLINE: ALEXANDER ROMANOV’S TERRIFIC TALE OF PATIENCE: Early this season, the Canadiens rookie defenseman looked like a potential Calder (Best Freshman) rookie candidate. And why not? For one thing, "Patience" could have been his middle name. Previously he spent two post-draft seasons with CSKA Moscow in the KHL and twice was named an all-star at the world Juniors. He was drafted 38th overall in 2018. 

Habs general manage Marc Bergevin liked his speed, offensive skills with a touch of pepper and spice thrown in to boot. But Romanov's star faded as this season unfolded and was not exactly considered a major factor in the Canadiens Cup pursuit. Prior to Game Four of the Final, he had previously played back on June 14. 

But just look at him now. He returned to the lineup on Monday night at Bell Centre and galvanized the home club with a key goal that put his mates ahead, 2-1 in the third period; en route to their ultimate victory. You can be sure that the Moscow native will be in the lineup tonight and, who knows, there may be room for even more heroics.

(Moral, in either English, French or Russian: Patience is a virtue.)


THE JIVE: Reporters covering the Islanders during the past few seasons have marveled at the patience and eloquence of coach Barry Trotz. I like his discourse so much, I dubbed him "The Winston Churchill of the NHL." 

If there's a runner-up -- maybe even a tie for first place in that category -- my vote goes to Jon Cooper of the Lightning. His analytical gems never fail to amuse and educate me. Here's the latest following his team's loss in Montreal on Monday night: "You can't pick your adversity. You hit a little bit of it and fight your way through it."


THE JIVE: The NHL's one time broadcast adversary, Ron MacLean hit the Commissioner with a few curve balls the other night. As usual, Gary Bettman batting them back with logic, starting with the ever-ready pitch about officiating. "It's always the subject of criticism," Bettman replied. "Sometime partisan but officiating is hard. Is it perfect? No. But we strive for perfection and we're getting it most of the time."

As for the NHL battling its way through the Pandemic, Bettman distributed his kudos throughout -- from fans to players to their families. "One thing I like," the Commissioner went on, "is that it's great that we got fans back in the buildings."

MacLean pressed him on the NHL in the Olympics issue. Bettman pointed out that there are many issues to be resolved including the insurance costs and who'll pay them. "All risks, including Covid, must be covered in the insurance -- and who bears the risk." Ron pushed through one more query; about time running out on an Olympic decision. To which Bettman replied, "We're far past the 'Drop Dead Date.'"


THE JIVE: Buy a dozen crystal balls, two dozen Ouija Boards and take all the Sportsnet "Insiders"  -- Ellotte Friedman at the helm, of course -- and you still won't have the answer to the outcome of tonight's Game Five of the Cup Final.

Already there have been ten tons of analyses but, really, it come down to one fine, feathered friend, Carey Price. And what coach Duke Ducharme will require is the Price of last playoff -- a 1.78 goals against average and .936 save percentage. 

We saw a beautiful bit of that in portions of Game Four's first period when his Habs were outshot, 11-1. A heck of a lot more of that kind of puck-stopping will be a must tonight if the Montreal miracle stays intact. 


THE JIVE: The name Jay Leach may not mean a heck of a lot to the average NHL fan, but it does to me. For a time, Leach was a Devils defense hopeful and was a cup of coffee regular in New Jersey. Like Ken Sutton before him, I regarded Leach higher in esteem than management did and, eventually, he retired and turned to coaching. 

Up until now he'd been working for the NHL Bruins running their AHL Providence sextet. But no more. Dave Hakstoll just hired him as an assistant for the budding Seattle Kraken stuff. I'll bet that Durable Dave doesn't know that Jay is the only NHL player ever to come out of Altamont, New York also in the mostly unknown Heldeberg Mountains near Albany. Good luck to Pal Jay.


THE JIVE: Like Blue Jackets top-rated goalie, Elvis Merzlikins, his Riga, Latvia buddy, Matiss Kivlenieks had a promising NHL future. 

At the start of this past season he was rated as the BJ's third-string goalie with every opportunity to make the top. Sad as it is to report, Kivlenieks' young life ended at age 24 in a freak accident. Always wearing a smile, Matiss was beloved by teammates wherever he played. Jackets g.m. said it well: "Life is precious and so fragile. Hug your loved ones every day."

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