MONTREAL - The Canadiens' playoff run in 2010 will remain etched in the memories of fans forever.
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Helmed by Jacques Martin, the Habs finished eighth in the Eastern Conference standings, setting up a first-round playoff matchup against the League-leading Washington Capitals, who closed the regular season with a 54-14-13 record.
After falling behind 3-1 in the series, Montreal completed the comeback with a 2-1 victory in Game 7 to send the Capitals packing.
Things didn't get any easier for the Canadiens in the second round when they battled Sidney Crosby and the Pittsburgh Penguins. This time around, the Habs rallied from a 3-2 series deficit to eliminate the Penguins and advance to the Eastern Conference Final where they ultimately fell to the Philadelphia Flyers in five games.
Maxim Lapierre remembers just how tight-knit and committed the Canadiens were back then.
"That was our attitude. Taking shortcuts wasn't tolerated. It was as simple as that, and that's why we had success. We had guys like Hal Gill and Josh Gorges. Every guy was blocking shots. Nobody turned away from a hit. We had hard-working players. Scott Gomez had his fair share of critics during his time in Montreal, but he was an important player for us. The guys took things seriously. It was a team that really wanted to win," explained Lapierre. "In a way, we made magic because we really didn't have any business being there. We finished eighth and we weren't supposed to beat Washington. When you start to believe, it's a question of momentum in a series. I won't hide the fact that after we beat Pittsburgh, I thought we were going to win the Stanley Cup. I told myself that we had just beaten two of the best teams, and we could do it. Honestly, I think we were running out of gas. We lacked energy against the Flyers. We weren't as energetic in the way we played. We played a little over our heads in the first two rounds, and that finally caught up with us."
Lapierre certainly made his presence felt in the series against the Penguins. The former second-round selection of the Canadiens in 2003 probably scored the most important goal of his career in Game 6 at the Bell Centre.
He remembers the moment like it was yesterday.
"I wanted to have an impact on the game. I knew that I probably wouldn't have a lot of ice time in the third period. I wanted to be ready for every shift. I didn't want to hit the ice just to kill time. I wanted to win that game and make an impact. I often watch that goal and people talk to me about it all the time. It's like I was possessed for 30 seconds out there," mentioned Lapierre, who registered three goals and four points in 19 games during the 2010 postseason. "I didn't score 1,000 goals like that during my career. It wasn't even about the goal for me, it was the atmosphere in the Bell Centre. It seemed like nobody wanted to sit down. The towels were flying for a few minutes. The feeling I felt on the bench was indescribable."
Anecdotes of an agitator
Lapierre earned a reputation as an agitator during his playing days. The centerman had a knack for frustrating opposing players.
The Montreal native remembers giving one player, in particular, a hard time.
"I don't know why, but my top client was Joe Thornton. I never understood why. He had so much talent and I don't know why he lost his focus because of me. Sometimes, I'd just look at him and laugh, and he'd respond with a cross-check," affirmed Lapierre. "One moment really stands out. It was in San Jose and we were shouting at each other. We were in the penalty box and he kept yelling at me. He finally decided that he'd had enough and he went to sit down. But he decided to sit down right where there wasn't any part of the bench beneath him. He went flying and hit his head on the edge of the bench. When he got up, he knew that I was laughing. He let me know that I got him."
At the end of his career, Lapierre had played 614 regular season games, amassing 65 goals, 139 points and 586 penalty minutes.
The 35-year-old sported the colors of the Canadiens, Anaheim Ducks, Vancouver Canucks, St. Louis Blues and the Penguins.
Interestingly enough, Lapierre was actually a teammate of some of his former victims, including the Sedin twins in Vancouver.
"I don't remember which of the two it was. One of them skated in front of our bench and I screamed, 'Your brother is really ugly.' He made the connection right away. The guys were laughing hysterically on the bench. I think the Sedins ended up laughing, too. They're such good guys. I think six or seven years later, I was traded to Vancouver and I played with them," said Lapierre. "When I got there, they never brought it up. Those are small stories that made me an agitator."
The Alumni Lounge and Le Salon des Anciens podcasts feature in-depth interviews with some of the organization's most popular players of the past.
The inaugural season of the pod will include 10 episodes, which will alternate languages each week under two separate titles in Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcasts, and other podcast hosting platforms.
They will also be available as full video episodes on the Canadiens' YouTube channel.