Montreal Canadiens aren’t as chained to their history and tradition as the rest of the hockey world (including yours really) likes to joke about. They can never escape, and neither should they. it’s the MONTREAL CANADIENS, for the love of fucking. But the plot ceremonies and the insistence on being at the head of every discussion are not as accentuated as they were a few years ago. That doesn’t mean Habs fans are the prettiest, and if they take four wins in the next seven games, all bets are off. But more of a scepter for those who currently adorn themselves in it Blue, White and Red, The Habs story has been something of a cudgel for opposing fans.
Even for modern hockey fans, who have heard of Canadians long ago, it’s hard not to know that the greatest teams have been built on the currents (and locks!) Of Guy Lafleur and Larry’s graceful play. Robinson, who “carried the torch” of Maurice Richard and Jean Béliveau and Yvan Cournover.
What everyone understands is that it is up to the past to no longer be relevant. Canadians have a new tradition look like, Or at least one can cement it with an unexpected and unlikely championship. His last two Cups, 1986 and 1993, were the product of a generational goalkeeper who supported a group of useful but barely stellust skaters for four rounds. Patrick Roy did it twice. Roy’s first triumph had Mats Näslund as the Habs ’best striker, a more than solid player and perhaps even good, but hardly a pillar of the game. His second seven years later he dragged like Vinny Damphousse, Kirk Muller and Brian Bellows across the line. Again, very fine players, but barely titans.
That’s what Carey Price can adhere to here. The Canadians have a raft of quick, defensive strikers, a Cole Caufield who can be an offensive star one day soon, and that’s it. Defensively, Shea Weber was once among the best in the game (he made two Canadian Olympic teams, after all), but those days are behind him. This is however without seeing a Stanley Cup finalist like you might have, other than Price.
Where Price will differentiate Roy’s two races for Montreal is that he had to manage an absolute glove to get there. In 1986, Roy failed to score a 100-point score in four playoff rounds. And that was 1986, when every player who could compete for 75 percent of their games even half sober collected 95 points. In 1993, Roy went on to knock out the absolutely loaded Pittsburgh Penguins, who had been defeated by the Islanders in the previous round, and had to negotiate only one Sabers one-line team before seeing Wayne Gretzky in the Finals. Not to say anything to Roy, especially in that 1986 race where he was it posted a .923 savings percentage in a year where .909 led the regular season. He revolutionized a position that, at the time, was mostly played as his first yoga class. And in 1993, Roy won three top-10 scoring teams of the regular season, even though his team had few stellar stars.
The price will prove the same. He has already beaten two of the top 10 teams this year in Toronto and Vegas, and Tampa would be a third (it could be argued that Tampa would have been a team of the top five scorers that Nikita Kucherov would have played at all in the regular season, giving Price two possible top-five scalps). Even the Jets, as far back and losing as they can be, play as Blake Wheeler, Nikolaj Ehlers, Kyle Connor, Mark Scheifele (when not suspended), and others. And this isn’t the Devils of the 90s, where Martin Brodeur has to clean up the rare puck that dribbled past the iron curtain defense in front of him. Montreal is a good defensive team, but they rank only 12th among the 16 playoff teams this year in seemingly predictable goals against per game. Price had to do the job.
The main problem for Price is at the other end, where the other goalkeeper is perhaps the only one who plays significantly better than he does these playoffs. While Andrei Vasilevskiy had a single or two on the way, he led the league in saved goals set by a $ 50 taxi ride, according to MoneyPuck.com. Not only will Price have to keep at bay the wide range of snipers and assassins employed by Lightning, he will also have to endure the best goalkeeper on the planet.
Vasilevskiy and Price show how much it takes to win a Stanley Cup now. Next up was that the teams thought all they needed was a goalkeeper and 18 guys who didn’t fall as much, as Roy had shown twice (and Dominik Hašek had almost left for Buffalo). Then the Red Wings made it seem like if you had an army of skilled skaters, you could win a Cup with any net type you’ve discovered again (hello, Chris Osgood!). What has become clear now is that you need both: Vasilevskiy behind the Lightning last year, Braden Holtby behind that Caps line in 2018. Matt Murray put in .923 and .937 (!) Save percentages in 2016. and 2017, respectively, it still takes Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin to be Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin to win. Most thought the Falcons were in the Red Wings model of having Namass Jackass on target (including too many in Chicago), but Corey Crawford was .932 in 2013 and .924 in 2015.
We already know that the Lightning have both. The Canadians have played like this through three rounds, but Price has to rethink what they didn’t have in front of him. And that’s what the Lightning strikes.
If he does, he will march with giants. It could even be the giant.