The Montreal Canadiens will win the Stanley Cup. After a game, six-win against Vegas, the Habs now have a date with the Tampa Bay Lightning. The Habs also have a chance to break the streak of a Canadien team now winning the cup. The Last Canadien team to win the Stanley Cup was the Canadiens back in the 1992-93 season.
How They Got here
The Canadiens crawled into the playoffs losing their last five games before post-season play. In the first round, they had to play the Toronto Maple Leafs. During the regular season, the Habs went 3-6-1 against the Leafs. They took game one against the Leafs and then proceeded to drop the next three. Down 3-1 and with their backs against the wall won the next three games to send the Leafs packing.
In the 2nd round, they ran through the Winnipeg Jets. Outscoring them 14-6 in four games on the way to a sweep and a ticket to dance with the Vegas Golden Knights. Vegas took game one by a score of 4 to 1 and looked like they outmatched the Habs. But once again, all of the hockey media was wrong. The Habs took the next two games and closed out the series in game six when Arturi Lehkonen scored the overtime goal that sent the Canadiens to the Stanely Cup Finals.
Who Helped Get Them Here
The guy that gets the most credit is the guy between the pipes. Carey Price has started all 17 games for the Canadiens in the playoffs and has a 2.02 GAA and a .934 SV%. But his performance is beyond the numbers. He is making the timely saves, and he is doing it when it matters most. Even on the penalty kill, Price has elevated his game. He has stopped 62 of 65 shots when the Habs are down a man, which .952 SV%.
Cole Caufield didn’t make his playoff debut until game three in the series against Toronto. But since he came in, he has helped drive the Habs offense. He has four goals and five assists in his 15 playoff appearances. Caufield is a 5-foot-7 jolt of energy every time is on the ice. Tyler Toffoli is arguably the best free-agent signing of the 2020 offseason. Toffoli was the team’s leading scorer during the regular season, and he is also the team’s leading scorer in the postseason. He was the boost that this offense needed badly.
One of the biggest things that have helped the Habs is their defensive play. Their ability to keep other team’s studs off the score sheet is a big component to the team’s success. In the series against the Leafs, the Habs held Mitch Marner and Auston Matthews to one combined goal. For Winnipeg, Kyle Connor and Nik Ehlers were two of the team’s top three scorers in the regular season. They were also held to one goal. And Lastly, in Vegas. The Habs put Mark Stone on a milk carton as he didn’t record a single point all series. And between Max Pacioretty and Jonathan Marchessault combined for one goal. So now the question is, how many goals will Nikita Kucherov, Brayden Point, and Steven Stamkos score?
What They Are Up Against
For the 2nd time in two years, the Tampa Bay Lightning are playing for the Stanley Cup. They took down the Dallas Stars in six games in last year’s finals. This year they get a chance to repeat as champion. They are lead between the pipes with Andrei Vasilevskiy. He is arguably the best goalie in the league and is a major component of the success of the Bolts. On the offensive side of things, Nikita Kucherov is the playoffs leading scorer with 27 points. Brayden Point, Alex Killorn, and Steven Stamkos all have at least 17 points. They are an offensive machine.
Everyone knows how good Tampa is, and it is easy to look at some very basic stats and make your prediction based on those. But this Montreal team is different and can give the Bolts a run for their money. Bugzy says Habs in 6.
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