TORONTO | march 2020 sounds like is already a distant memory in this period of a pandemic. When you go back the time it was already ten years old, it becomes practically an eternity.
May 12, 2010, the Canadian had eliminated the Pittsburgh Penguins in the second round of the playoffs by winning 5 to 2 in the seventh game at old Mellon Arena. It was the spring of Jaroslav Halak.
A little over ten years later, the Penguins are counting on three players of this team in 2010 : Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin and Kristopher Letang.
Behind the bench, there is also an important actor of the series in the CH 2010. Jacques Martin, who was the head coach with the Habs, now occupies a position of assistant to Mike Sullivan with the Penguins.
Three days before the first match of the qualifying round between the Canadian and the Penguins, Letang has quickly made a detour in the past.
“It’s always special for me to face the Canadian, said Letang video of hotel X Toronto. Yes, indeed, it was a bad memory of this series 2010. It was still a series of very exciting, Halak really had been spectacular. But we learned a lot from this series in the future. Playing against Montreal is always special. This is the team of my childhood, this is a team that I still follow. I am very excited at the idea of living a series against them. “
The speed of the CH
Ten years ago, the CH and the Penguins had fought a battle up to the limit of seven games. No need to be Nostradamus to predict that the next series will end quicker due to the different format of a three of five.
If several experts expect a victory fast enough for the training of Pennsylvania, in three or four games, Letang remains cautious.
“I think this will be a series difficult, replied the defender of 33 years. The Canadian is a team with speed, good young players. There will be the attack. The two guards will receive several shots. It will be nice. At least, you don’t have to play against the Canadian at the Bell Centre with all the atmosphere of there. This is probably a small positive for us. But as I said, it will be a series more emotional for me since it is the Canadian. “
On one side, there will be the experience of the Penguins. The Letang, Crosby and Malkin have three conquests of the Cup Stanley (2009, 2016 and 2017). They have hundreds of matches in the tie in series. On the other hand, the CH will build on a team inexperienced. Right in the centre, a crucial position, Nick Suzuki, Jesperi Kotkaniemi and Max Domi have never played in the playoffs.
Questioned on this factor, Letang wanted to rush things.
“I think that in the scenario where we find ourselves, the advantage may be less great. There is no crowd, no distraction. The momentum is breaking quickly due to the atmosphere. In my opinion, it is more or less an advantage. The players with the experience, however, can remain calm in situations that are more stressful. If there is an advantage, it is probably there. “
“The experience can be likened to a professor. It teaches you a lot of stuff. You can learn a lot from our experiences in life, ” said Sullivan, the coach of the Penguins. The players, coaches and teams live with the challenge of a route to the Cup, they live the successes, but also failures. It gives you a certain perspective. You have the benefit of these experiences to hopefully inspire you, if situations occur in a series high in emotion. You can say: we already lived it, one must have the head in the right place. Our kernel is very accomplished. They are good and want more. They understand how difficult it is to win. You take nothing for granted. We know what type of challenge it will be against a team very well directed. “