the canadians finished fourth in the seven-team scottish north division, where the top four teams made it to the playoffs. They defeated the Toronto Maple Leafs in seven games in the first round of the Stanley Cup after trailing the series 3-1 and swept the Winnipeg Jets in the second round. Montreal reached the Finals for the first time since winning the Cup for an NHL record 23rd time in 1993 with a win in six games against the Vegas Golden Knights in the Stanley Cup Semifinals.
Here’s a look at what happened during the 2021 postseason for the Canadians and why things could get better next season:
the skinny one
Potential unrestricted free agents: corey perry, f; joel armia, f; phillip danault, f; Eric Staal, F; you take tartar, f; Jon Merrill, D; erik gustafsson, d
Potential restricted free agents: artturi lehkonen, f; jesperi kotkaniemi, f
potential 2021 nhl draft picks: 11
what went wrong
playing from behind
the canadians finished 11-2 after game 4 of the first round to reach the final thanks to a suffocating penalty and taking the lead and making their opponents chase the game. Although the kill remained in the final, Montreal couldn’t take the lead until Game 4, then surrendered twice before claiming their only win on Josh Anderson’s goal at 3:57 of extra time.
defeated at their own game
The line of yanni gourde, blake coleman and barclay goodrow lit the lightning and gave the canadians fits. Although Montreal put out the same kind of energy in the first three rounds, Tampa Bay’s back row delivered a masterful effort, one that was worthy of a repeat Stanley Cup winner.
Although Montreal had enough depth for Kotkaniemi to be a healthy scratch for the final two games of the Finals, the lineup was far from entirely healthy. Coach Dominique Ducharme missed six games due to a positive COVID-19 test, including the first two in Tampa. confirmed that defensemen Shea Weber (thumb) and Jeff Petry (finger), and forward Tyler Toffoli (groin), were among those who played with injuries, and said forward Brendan Gallagher “had a groin (injury) and more.” .
video: Lightning beats Canadians to repeat as cup champions
reasons for optimism
arrival of caufield
cole caufield earned his place in the canadiens lineup for the foreseeable future from the moment he made his nhl postseason debut in game 3 of the first round. The 2021 Hobey Baker Award winner voted the best male player in NCAA Division I ice hockey assisted on Nick Suzuki’s goal in Game 5 against the Maple Leafs for the first of Montreal’s six wins in overtime that started a seven-game winning streak that ended when he set up Toffoli’s overtime goal in Game 4 against Winnipeg. the 20-year-old right back had 12 points (four goals, eight assists) in 20 games to lead all rookies in the playoffs.
suzuki game creation
suzuki proved that Canadians’ seemingly endless search for a no. 1 center has shown promising results. The 21-year-old led them with 16 points (seven goals, nine assists) in 22 playoff games and it’s no exaggeration to see him and Caufield giving Montreal top-level offensive production, and sooner than many may have projected. .
the big four on defense
The Canadians are stronger through their top two defensive pairings than they have been in a long time. Weber and Ben Chiarot teamed up during the playoffs last season, and Joel Edmundson was a perfect fit for Petry in the second pair. Montreal general manager Marc Bergevin preaches the value of depth in the job and Alexander Romanov, 21, seems to contribute if he progresses in his development.