Price and Canadiens Fight Hard but Drop the Last Round
The 2020-21 NHL season has finally ended. The Montreal Canadiens and Tampa Bay Lightning closed out the Stanley Cup Finals in five games, as the Lighting repeated as Stanley Cup champions. Game five was a showcase of exactly what playoff hockey is meant to be; physicality, emotion, and resiliency.
I’ve been a Habs fan for as long as I can remember. I have had the chance to don jerseys of Habs greats such as Saku Koivu, Alex Kovalev, Mike Cammalleri, and none other than Carey Price. Tonight, I got to see my boyhood team battle it out for the Stanley Cup, without the knowledge of when they might make it back to this point in the future.
What I saw from the Canadiens tonight made me extremely proud to be a fan of their club. For years I had always ripped the Canadiens for being consistent in one aspect of the game – underachieving. I always knew they had what it took, it just seemed they didn’t want to live up to their potential.
Well, it’s safe to say that in these playoffs the Canadiens went above and beyond anyone’s expectations, and made an entire city proud in the process.
The truth is although we only lost 1-0, the game would have been even more out of reach for the Canadiens if it wasn’t for the play of Carey Price. The Anahim Lake, BC native, was stellar tonight, putting up his best performance of the series. Price looked locked in and focused, ready to take the series back to Montreal for Game 6.
Alas, it wasn’t meant to be, but nonetheless, Price was sensational and deserves applause for his play. Another player who played extremely well tonight was Josh Anderson.
Anderson was buzzing all night, finishing his hits, creating scoring chances through his speed, and fighting until the very end of the game. The 27-year-old played his heart out tonight and deserves recognition. All in all, I am extremely happy he is a Montreal Canadien, as he was an integral part of this team reaching the Finals.
What can I say about Brendan Gallagher? The very heart and soul of this team was the human embodiment of resiliency in this series. Playing with what I am pretty sure was a groin injury, Gallagher still got up and fought his heart out for his team. Gallagher has been around the block with the Canadiens, as he has been through the various ups and downs over the years. Tonight, he showed everyone what it was really like to be a Hab, and I thank him for it.
The Canadiens in general played very well. They had good breakouts (save the first period), put pressure on the defense using their forecheck, and created decent scoring chances throughout the contest. In short, they looked like the poised and calm team of the past rounds fans had been treated to.
However, I’m not sure what it is with the first period, but the Canadiens sure do love to come out flat and sloppy. The Habs come alive in the second, but they played the game of hockey through three periods, not two. For the second straight game in a row, the Canadiens had me cursing at the television in the first.
They looked confused, lacked confidence and intensity, and looked as if someone had slipped some muscle relaxants into their Gatorade bottles.
Although they did eventually end up playing well tonight, they were no match for Tampa Bay, as the Lightning were simply the better club. Tampa had amazing play from their depth, as their third and fourth lines stood out and carried them most of the way in this series. Their defense, in my opinion, the best in the league, was able to thwart the Canadiens and stand them up.
Their speed lethal, their passing superb, their playmaking remarkable; this team was just unstoppable. The fact of the matter is that no matter how hard the Canadiens played tonight, they got outclassed by a better hockey club, plain and simple.
Oh my, how can I forget Andrei Vasilevskiy? The Russian superstar was unbeatable all series and had me scratching my head for most of it. I could talk about how great Vasilevskiy is for days, but I’d rather show my appreciation for this sentiment. If I were to start an NHL frachise tomorrow, Vasilevskiy would be the player I pick first. He showed us how championships can be won with a stellar goalie, and that, my friends, is priceless.
Congratulations to the 2020-21 Stanley Cup Champions, the Tampa Bay Lightning! Thank you for the amazing series.
Until next time.
Dropping the Mike on ya!