Well, I don’t think anybody had the Montreal Canadians making it to the final four on their 2021 hockey bingo card. The all Canadian team division seemed stacked with every team except for Ottawa making the playoffs in the bubble. The Calgary Flames made it to the second-round last year while the Vancouver Canucks made it one series short of getting a real chance at Lord Stanley’s cup. Both teams were near the bottom of the barrel this year. After a hot start and then falling off a bit, Montreal was able to secure the fourth and final spot in the North Division playoff race. The reward? Having to face the top seeded Toronto Maple Leafs lead by Auston Matthews and Mitch Marner.
At Sportsnet, one of the networks in Canada, 23 of their analysts predicted a Toronto series win in five, six, or seven games. It was also made official that if the series were to go to six games, Montreal fans would be allowed to attend. Many thought that wouldn’t happen. Montreal got the first win of the series, but things took a drastic turn when Toronto rattled off three straight wins. They won game two and game four in dominating fashion by scores of 5-1 and 4-0, respectively. The obituaries were already being written.
At this point, the pundits were ready to look ahead to the next series. But not to be outdone, the youth movement for the Canadians stepped up. It was rookie Cole Caufield setting up Nick Suzuki on a two man break to force game six, and Jesperi Kotkaniemi scoring off a costly turnover to send it to one last dance. And by the way, all of those goals came in overtime. Game seven in Toronto– seems like a no brainer right? Not so fast. The Montreal momentum lead to a 3-1 victory, and that carried over to beat up on Winnipeg. That series ended in a sweep with the final goal coming four minutes into OT with Caulfield setting up Stanley Cup winner Tyler Toffoli in front of 2,000 happy fans. Toffoli won two cups with the LA Kings and was traded to Vancouver before COVID struck, and it’s safe to say his free agency signing is looking really good right about now in the eyes of the Canadian’s faithful.
Montreal now awaits the winner of the Colorado-Vegas series.
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