HabsWorld.net -- 

There were definitely some tense moments along the way but the Habs picked up two of three wins for the second straight week, earning them the Clarence Campbell Bowl for the first (and barring another year like this, only) time as they advanced to the Stanley Cup Final to take on Tampa Bay.

The Week That Was

June 20: Golden Knights 2, Canadiens 1 (OT) – In Game 3, the Habs were outplayed but managed to pull out the victory.  The opposite happened in this one.  The Habs put on a defensive clinic but Brayden McNabb squeaked one past Carey Price midway through the third period.  Early in the overtime, on their only high-danger sequence of the games, Nicolas Roy was able to take advantage of a defensive miscue and lift one over Price to tie the series once again.  The decision to start Robin Lehner was the right one for the Golden Knights.

June 22: Canadiens 4, Golden Knights 1 – Josh Anderson got the Habs going early; while his net rush was stopped, Marc-Andre Fleury’s rebound kicked out to Jesperi Kotkaniemi who buried it.  Eric Staal then scored a rare goal early in the second before Cole Caufield tripled the lead on a rare power play goal.  Montreal settled into more of a defensive structure in the third and Max Pacioretty spoiled the shutout bid but that’s as close as Vegas got with Nick Suzuki potting the empty-netter to seal it.

June 24: Canadiens 3, Golden Knights 2 (OT) – The Canadiens got an early lift from their captain in this one as Shea Weber blasted home a power play goal (seriously, they scored one in back-to-back games) to open the scoring but the lead was erased less than a minute later.  Caufield restored the lead in the second but that one was also erased as Alec Martinez – who played the entire playoffs with a broken foot – tied it early in the third.  That set up Phillip Danault’s line – the quietest of the four offensively in the series to be the hero as his pass to Artturi Lehkonen (that somehow snuck through a tight opening to get there) was buried to send the Habs to their first appearance in the Final since 1993.



# Player GP G A +/- PIMS SOG ATOI
6 Shea Weber 3 1 0 E 4 5 24:44
8 Ben Chiarot 3 0 0 E 0 4 24:40
11 Brendan Gallagher 3 0 1 +1 0 11 14:57
14 Nick Suzuki 3 1 3 +1 2 7 18:39
15 Jesperi Kotkaniemi 3 1 0 -1 0 3 15:09
17 Josh Anderson 3 0 1 E 0 5 15:11
21 Eric Staal 3 1 0 E 2 4 11:00
22 Cole Caufield 3 2 0 -1 0 8 13:43
24 Phillip Danault 3 0 1 +1 0 8 17:19
26 Jeff Petry 3 0 1 +2 0 2 25:21
28 Jon Merrill 3 0 0 -1 0 1 11:22
32 Erik Gustafsson 3 0 0 +1 0 1 6:51
40 Joel Armia 3 0 0 E 0 7 11:40
41 Paul Byron 3 1 1 +1 2 3 16:29
44 Joel Edmundson 3 0 1 E 0 2 26:58
62 Artturi Lehkonen 3 1 0 +1 0 5 17:00
73 Tyler Toffoli 3 0 2 E 2 7 17:00
94 Corey Perry 3 0 1 E 0 3 12:53


# Player Record GAA SV% SO
31 Carey Price 2-0-1 1.64 .943 0

Team Leaders:

Goals: 4 tied with (5)
Assists: Tyler Toffoli (9)
Points: Tyler Toffoli (14)
+/-: Erik Gustafsson (+5)
PIMS: Shea Weber (24)
Shots: Brendan Gallagher (42)

News And Notes

– Dominique Ducharme will have to watch the first two games of the Tampa Bay series from home as he won’t be permitted to join the team on the road until he passes two weeks past his positive COVID-19 test.

– Jake Evans is no longer limited in practice as he went through Thursday’s game-day skate without a no-contact jersey.  It’s hard to see him rejoining the lineup right away but it’s good to have him as an option in case they have to shake things up or cover for an injury during the series.

– Eric Staal very quietly has eight points in the playoffs, his highest total since his first career postseason appearance back in 2008-09.  His linemate Corey Perry has nine points in 17 games, matching his playoff point total from the bubble but in ten fewer games.

Last Game’s Lines:

Toffoli – Suzuki – Caufield
Lehkonen – Danault – Gallagher
Byron – Kotkaniemi – Anderson
Armia – Staal – Perry

Chiarot – Weber
Edmundson – Petry
Gustafsson – Merrill

The Series Ahead

Like last round, there are no back-to-back games while there is even a two-day break between games three and four to avoid going up against any Fourth of July celebrations in the United States.  All games start at 8:00 PM EST except for Game 7 which is scheduled for 7:00 PM if it gets that far.

Game 1: June 28 in Tampa Bay
Game 2: June 30 in Tampa Bay
Game 3: July 2 in Montreal
Game 4: July 5 in Montreal
Game 5: July 7 in Tampa Bay*
Game 6: July 9 in Montreal*
Game 7: July 11 in Tampa Bay

*- if necessary

Final Thought

Over the next few days, there will be plenty of discussion about the keys to victory for either side.  For me, it comes down to special teams.  Yes, Montreal’s penalty kill is on a high right now and the fact they haven’t allowed a goal in the last 56-plus minutes being shorthanded is fantastic.  However, Tampa Bay’s power play is deadly.  Unfortunately, they like to work the side-to-side play and while we’ve seen Carey Price make some stretched out saves on those, that’s a weak spot for him in general.  Can Montreal’s penalty killers for the Lightning out of their comfort zone and play somewhat close to a net neutral on special teams?

If they can, they’ll have a chance as the two teams are somewhat close to even in terms of five-on-five production and goals allowed.  That’s where Montreal is at its best as they can roll their four lines effectively and play to their strengths.  The more it’s played at even strength, the better opportunity they’ll have to hang around and be opportunistic.  That’s how the Habs have gotten this far and how the Islanders took it to seven games against the Lightning last round.  But that’s the key, don’t get beat by the power play because if the Lightning do to Montreal with the man advantage what they’ve done to their other opponents, they’re going to be in trouble quickly.  The toughest task lies ahead, as does the biggest prize.