|The Canadiens came a long way in 2007-08. |
MONTREAL - No one gave them a chance. Few expected them to even reach the playoffs. Even following a second-round defeat to the Flyers, the Canadiens couldn’t help but hold their heads high after proving so many critics wrong this season.
“After the type of season we had, we were all expecting more,” admitted Guy Carbonneau. “We still managed to get pretty far and we accomplished a lot as a group. Sometimes, when you lose a game or series like this, it can only help a team one day get to the next level.”
Predicted by many to finish in the Eastern Conference cellar this season, the Canadiens refused to follow that script and go quietly. With the support of a core group of veterans, the young and hungry Habs never stopped believing in each other.
“No one saw us in the playoffs this year, let alone in the second round,” said Bryan Smolinski. “Sure this one is tough to swallow, but you can’t help but reflect on what a year this has been. You think about how much everyone in this room means to you and all we’ve been through this year. I can’t say enough about how proud I am of these kids.”
One of those youngsters is Guillaume Latendresse, who knows this is only the beginning for him and his seven fellow 20-something teammates who all got their first taste of NHL playoff action.
“We’re a young team and we’re only going to be better after all we’ve experienced this year,” noted Latendresse. “Teams who get this right the first time around are pretty rare. With the amazing group we have here, good things are going to happen for us, beginning in September.”
Despite the Canadiens being only a year removed from missing the playoffs altogether, this five-game series loss to the Flyers wasn’t any easier to take.
“This definitely feels far worse than when we missed the playoffs last year,” said Christopher Higgins. “It hurts to have felt what winning at this time of year is like and then have it end this way. Once you get a taste of playoff success, it can get really addictive. I think we all wanted more. I learned a lot from this and I know I’m not alone.”Manny Almela is a writer for canadiens.com