The Cinderella run of the Montreal Canadiens continues as the Habs have advanced to the Stanley Cup Finals for the first time since 1993 after eliminating the heavily favourite Vegas Golden Knights in six games. The Habs’ improbable run was capped off by Arturri Lehkonen less than two minutes into overtime. To the surprise of no one, the series was a hard-fought low scoring affair. Even less of a surprise was the outstanding play of youngster Cole Caufield.
Cole Caufield Outstanding Play Helps Propel the Canadiens to the Stanley Cup Finals
Entering the series, Cole Caufield had yet to score a goal in the playoffs. However, he had been playing extremely well since being a healthy scratch to open the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Caufield helps drive the offence for the Canadiens. Creating a ton of scoring chances for his team and being dangerous every time he steps on the ice. Entering the semi-finals, Caufield took it up a notch. Caufield registered his first goal of the playoffs in a 4-1 defeat in Game 1 against the Golden Knights.
That goal opened the gates for Caufield who went on the score three more goals during the season as well as adding an assist to lead the Canadiens in points, tied with Nick Suzuki with five points in six games. Caufield led the Canadiens in shots in the series with 17, with an outstanding shooting percentage of 23.5 percent during the series. Cole Caufield is the sniper that the Canadiens have been missing from their lineup for years and with his elite ability to find the back of the net at the biggest stage, is so impressive.
It’s not just his ability to put the puck in the net, but his creativity to get to the areas to give him a chance to do so. His goal in Game 6 to give the Canadiens a 2-1 lead in the second period is a prime example of this.
The Canadiens haven’t had a player with such elite offensive talents in their lineup since Alex Kovalev and to think he’s just getting his young career started for the Canadiens has to have fans buzzing.
Shutting Down the Golden Knights Stars
While Caufield’s play shouldn’t come as a surprise, the play of the Golden Knights top players should. Golden Knights captain Mark Stone was held pointless in the series against the Canadiens. Jonathan Marchessault recorded just one assist. Max Pacioretty, who had scored eight points in his first seven playoff games, scored just three points in six games against his former team. The Canadiens found a way to get in the face of Vegas’s stars, keeping them to the outside and limiting their scoring chances, making them a nonfactor in the series.
The Canadiens defence was outstanding in the series, however, a lot of the credit needs to go to the play of Phillip Danault and his linemates Brendan Gallagher and Arturri Lehkonen. While they only combined for three points in six games, those points came on the series-clinching goal. This line knew their role going into the series. It was the same as every other series. Shut down the opposing team’s top players. Considering Stone never record a single point, it looks like they did their job quite well. That line is massively underrated. To hold star players like Stone to zero points is a huge accomplishment. One that was a key factor in the Canadiens advancing to the Stanley Cup Finals.
Carey Price Continues to Shine
Not to be outdone, Carey Price continues to shine as well. He most certainly needs to be considered for the Conn Smythe Trophy no matter if the Canadiens win the Stanley Cup or not. The Canadiens have played extremely well during this run. However, they wouldn’t be here if not for the play of Price. Price has posted 12-5 record with a goals-against-average of 2.02 and save percentage of .934. When it comes to elimination games, Price elevates his game even further. During this run, Price has a 5-0 record with a 1.88 goals-against-average and a .934 save percentage in elimination games. Price has a swagger in his game and when he is playing at this level, it’s extremely hard to bet against the Canadiens star netminder. Price has stated previously that he believes he can win a Stanley Cup and he is certainly on a mission to do so this season.
Feels a Little Like 93
This incredible run by the Canadiens feels a little like 93. They have the depth at centre as the Habs did in 93. Phillip Danault is doing his best Guy Carbonneau impression, smothering the opposition’s top players like a blanket and Carey Price is looking like a potential Conn Smythe winner, just like Patrick Roy. With the way he’s playing, the Roy style helmet and the wink, it seems we have seen this story play out before.
The Canadiens will be the underdog once again when they enter their Stanley Cup Final matchup against the Tampa Bay Lightning or New York Islanders. However, it doesn’t seem to bother them. They’ve been underdogs the entire playoffs. With the way they’re playing and the team’s they’ve already defeated, it’s making it extremely hard to bet against these Canadiens. They deserve everyone’s respect. Throw all the narratives out the window. These Canadiens are for real.