The Canadians face the final elimination of the Stanley Cup by the Lightning. here’s why
Posted On July 4, 2021
The Montreal Canadiens were the surprise of the NHL playoffs, reaching the Stanley Cup final despite finishing with the fewest points among playoff teams.
But against defending champion Lightning Tampa Bay, they find themselves facing an elimination, 3-0 before Game 4 on Monday (8 p.m. ET, NBC) in Montreal.
The Canadiens will try to stay alive at the Bell Center, where the rafters include banners for the club’s record 24 Stanley Cup titles.
Only four NHL teams overcame a 3-0 series deficit to win and none have made it to the final since the 1942 Toronto Maple Leafs defeated the Detroit Red Wings.
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“Those who think we’re just going to go don’t really know us,” said Canadiens coach Dominique Ducharme, who overcame a 3-0 deficit in junior hockey. “We will fight. That’s all we’re thinking about right now.”
Why Canadians are on the brink:
Too many mistakes
The Canadians dominated Tampa Bay in Game 2, but the Lightning took a 2-1 lead with a goal with 1.1 seconds left in the second period. They took a 3-1 lead after poor defensive communication from Montreal.
In Game 3, Eric Staal was penalized for putting the puck over the glass, and Tampa Bay scored to make it 2-0 in the first period. They dominated Tampa Bay for the remainder of the period, scoring one goal, but a poor second-half line change led to a 2-0 break, a Nikita Kucherov goal and a 3-1 lead.
“It’s a talented team,” said Ducharme. “They’re making you pay for your mistakes. If we look at the scoring chances in Game 3, it was almost even. But we gave them some scoring chances from mistakes.”
They don’t score first
When the Canadiens recovered from a 3-1 deficit against the Maple Leafs and then swept the Winnipeg Jets, they scored first in all seven games. They thrive in this situation by playing physically and relying on goalie Carey Price.
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But the Lightning have scored the first goal in all three games of the championship round, and Montreal’s offense isn’t as strong as Tampa Bay’s. The Canadians are 11-2 in the playoffs when they score first and 1-6 when they don’t.
Lightning disrupt prices
The great Montreal defense did a good job in the first three laps clearing the area in front of Price. If he can see shots, he’ll stop them.
But the Lightning found ways to filter Price. They did it on the first two goals of Game 3.
They also do a good job with side passes and scored several goals in Game 1 on deflections.
Price had a 2.02 goals-against average and .934 save percentage in the first three rounds. In the final, his numbers are 4.39 and 0.835.
Lightning can overcome adversity too
The Canadians are proud of all the adversity they have overcome this season, including Ducharme who was sidelined six games in the playoffs with a positive test for COVID-19.
Their playoff opponents also faced adversity. Maple Leafs captain John Tavares was injured on a fluke, Jets forward Mark Scheifele received a four-game suspension and Vegas Golden Knights first line center Chandler Stephenson missed the first four semi-final matches.
These teams were hurt by the absences, but the Lightning managed to overcome the loss of second row Alex Killorn in Game 1. They advanced Tyler Johnson in Game 2 and he got an assist. They brought him back to the fourth line for Game 3 and he scored twice.