MONTREAL – Wondering what it takes to win in the NHL playoffs? Why not ask Mathieu Schneider? We did.
You don’t spend almost 20 years in the NHL without picking up a thing or two about what it takes to win in April, May and June. A Stanley Cup winner with the Habs in 1993, Schneider is about to get his first taste of postseason hockey in Montreal since the mid-1990s.
“I was only 23 years old when we won that Cup with the Canadiens in 1993 and when that happens when you’re so young, you think ‘Yeah I can get used to this,’” admitted Schneider. “But here I am 16 years later and I’m still waiting to get back there.”
That Habs team that shocked the world by winning the Cup in dramatic fashion with a record 10 overtime victories in the spring of 1993 remains a source of inspiration to Schneider.
“That just proved that anything is possible when a team comes together the way we did that year,” he recalled. “Actually, Kirk Muller and I were talking about that just the other day. People don’t give that team we had enough credit. We did put up 102 points that year, don’t forget. I always hear about how we caught an off-year and just got lucky. The truth is we played our best when it counted and Patty Roy just got hot at the right time.”
Any team hoping to raise the Stanley Cup in the coming months must do one thing first—survive the opening round. According to Schneider, that’s often easier said than done.
“The toughest thing to me has always been that first round, when you get past that first one it’s like ok here we go,” said Schneider, who boasts 109 playoff games under his belt. “The thing is, if you’re first or eighth place it doesn’t matter.”
Schneider has been at both ends of the upset spectrum, having upended the Red Wings as a member of the upstart, seventh-seeded Kings in 2001 and suffered the humiliation of losing as a top seed with Detroit against the No. 8 Oilers back in 2006.
“I learned about the dangers of the first round in Detroit the hard way when we had a great regular season only to fall flat in the playoffs,” warned Schneider. “That first round is the tricky one. Things seem to balance themselves out after the first round, but it can sure be a killer for a favored team.”
The Canadiens certainly hope so, beginning in Boston on Thursday night. Manny Almela is a writer for canadiens.comRead also: One more sleep Underdog, shmunderdog Nothing new