Season’s Success Should not be Based on Playoff Performance

Don't let playoff success to go your head. [Photo: Dave Stanford/Getty Images]

By Jared Book, Staff Writer, All Habs Hockey Magazine

MONTREAL, QC – Oh, I love this time of the year. The Montreal Canadiens just clinched a playoff spot not many people expected. Then proceed to get beat pretty badly by two teams behind them, leading to panic about Carey Price (Yes. Again.) and facing the Toronto Maple Leafs in the playoffs.

Don't let playoff success to go your head. [Photo: Dave Stanford/Getty Images]
Don’t let playoff success to go your head. [Photo: Dave Stanford/Getty Images]
The Maple Leafs just seem to have the Canadiens number. Their mix of speed and muscle is just too much for the small Canadiens to handle. A playoff match up in the first round against them is setting up ultimate doom and a disappointing end to a great season. Right? Wrong.

I won’t get through all the reasons why just yet, but the way I see it, even if the Canadiens lose in the first round – to Toronto or any one else – it is not a failed season. This team has grown leaps and bounds and is better than any Canadiens team in recent memory. Yes, even the one that somehow won the Eastern Conference or made it to the Conference Finals on the shoulders of Jaroslav Halak.

The fact is, only one team can win the Stanley Cup which means that the last 20 years look pretty much the same with various degrees of excitement in between for most Canadiens fans. It’s tough to base your decisions based on what could be a seven game series. Look how long it has taken the Washington Capitals to rebound from over-thinking their 2010 exit at the hands of the Canadiens, or look how fast the Buffalo Sabres have dropped after changing the outlook of their team after making adjustments to how they fared.

Teams are quick to make quick fixes (see: trade deadline) in order to appease the critics, but the truth is not as white or black. The Canadiens are in a position to become a contender for a few years with their team just coming into their own.

Let’s take a look at two different teams. Which one would you rather cheer for?

Year 1: 2nd in Conference (Lost Stanley Cup Final)
Year 2: 4th (WON Stanley Cup)
Year 3: 4th (Lost Round 2)
Year 4: 4th (Lost Round 1)
Year 5: 4th (Lost Round 1)
Year 6: 1st

Year 1: 1st in Conference (Lost Round 2)
Year 2: 8th (Lost Round 1)
Year 3: 8th (Lost Round 3)
Year 4: 6th (Lost Round 1)
Year 5: 15th
Year 6: 2nd

If you haven’t figured it out, Team A is the Pittsburgh Penguins and Team B is the Montreal Canadiens both from 2007-08 to this year. No one will doubt that the Penguins were Stanley Cup contenders in all of those years despite the round 1 and 2 exits. They continued to build to this year. Montreal had a brief playoff success before falling completely off the map just two years later. Did Pittsburgh completely change their philosophy after losing in Round 2 to an inferior Montreal team? How about after losing to Tampa Bay and Philadelphia in the Opening Round two years in a row? No. They tweaked and now are set to win their first division in five years and first Conference title in the Sidney Crosby era.

Playoff blips are going to happen. The important thing is having a team capable of winning it every year which Pittsburgh has done. Don’t read into a seven game sample. Whether it’s your goalie going 1-4 in his last five games, or his backup winning seven straight starts. Whether it’s a seven game win over the Pittsburgh Penguins or a five game loss to the Philadelphia Flyers, both can happen. Sometimes in the same year.

Don’t let it affect how you look at this 48 game season, and especially how you view the future.