The Canadiens’ run to the Stanley Cup has looked like a magical one, with things falling into place, piece by piece, and they are now within reach of the ultimate goal, Lord Stanley’s Cup. To get the fairy tale ending though, these five points will have to go the Canadiens’ way:
Carey Price’s numbers in the last few seasons haven’t been those of a world-class goaltender, but when the stakes are high, the Canadiens’ franchise goalie has been as good as can be. In 17 games so far, he’s got a 2.02 GAA, and a .934 save percentage. In the last series, he’s become the first Canadiens’ goaltender to win seven away games in a single Cup run, overtaking both Patrick Roy and Ken Dryden, who had managed six.
The Shutdown Line
It’s no coincidence that the likes of Mitch Marner, Auston Matthews, Blake Wheeler, Kyle Connor, Mark Stone, and Max Pacioretty had trouble shining against the Canadiens, it can easily be explained by the hard work of the Canadiens’ first line formed of Lehkonen, Danault, and Gallagher. This season, Danault has finished sixth in voting for the Selke trophy, and his play in the postseason has spoken volumes about his importance to this Canadiens team.
“As a Canadiens fan, and living it too with these big moments has been very special,” said Danault. “Our fans are fantastic. They are giving us a lot of energy after that game six and for the final, we want to come back here and win again. It’s going to be awesome.”
The 4 Horsemen of the Apocalypse
Montreal’s bench bosses have relied heavily on their top-4 defensemen, this may become a concern if signs of fatigue start showing in Shea Weber, who struggled handling big minutes during the regular season. If he’s found the fountain of youth. He may just have enough gas left in the tank to guide his team to the four more wins they need to shock the hockey world much like they did back in 1993.
The Kids are Alright
The Canadiens’ leadership group is smart, the veterans clearly understood that to reach their goal, they need the speed and skills of the three youngsters that have had such an impact on the team so far. Nick Suzuki, Cole Caufield, and Jesperi Kotkaniemi will need to keep up with their heroics. They’ve all scored big timely goals, and without them, the Sainte-Flanelle would not be where it is today. There’s a reason why Sheldon Keefe credited Caufield and Kotkaniemi for changing the allure of the series after the Canadiens eliminated the Leafs.
Enough for one Last Push
When Marc Bergevin went shopping last offseason, he managed to get everything he had on his list; a quality back-up for Price, another big and gritty defenseman, more scoring, but more importantly, some Cup-winning experience. Jake Allen, Joel Edmundson, Tyler Toffoli all filed that qualification, but it’s Corey Perry that’s had the biggest influence from a leadership standpoint, along with near deadline day acquisition Eric Staal. While they are no Spring chickens, they are most certainly Spring performers, and they’ll need to be Summer ones for the Canadiens to overcome the well oiled-hockey machine that is the Tampa Bay Lightning. With depth being so important in such a deep run, Montreal will be hoping that both have enough energy left to be as useful as they’ve been in puck possession so far, especially without Joel Armia who has not traveled to Tampa with the team this afternoon because of the Covid protocol.
With all that said, there’s nothing left to do but sit back, (try to) relax and watch the Tricolore attempt to succeed where the Oilers and Canucks have failed in the last 20 years, bring the Cup back home, where it belongs, in Canada.