The Montreal Canadiens are no stranger to the underdog role in the 2020-21 National Hockey League playoffs and it would surprise nobody to know that they are the odds-on underdog in the Stanley Cup Final.
Luke Richardson has said that the coaching staff, led by interim head coach Dominique Ducharme has hammered home throughout the post-season that the Canadiens belong with the top teams in the NHL, and it has gotten them through the Vegas Golden Knights and against the Tampa Bay Lightning with it all to play for.
As the Canadiens go for a 25th Stanley Cup victory, the same things that led them to this point will have to continue in order for them to beat the Lightning. Tampa Bay was outplayed at points by the New York Islanders, and if not for Andrei Vasilevskiy’s heroics they may not have had this chance to defend their title.
Vasilevskiy has never lost in regulation to Carey Price, with a 9-0-2 mark against the Canadiens’ starter.
The two teams have split their last two meetings in the post-season in 2014 and 2015 and the team without home-ice advantage won both series. Most games in both series were very close, and could have gone either way. It should be pointed out that Vasilevskiy did not start any of those games, and was not on the team’s roster in 2014.
The Canadiens are 11-2 since falling behind the Toronto Maple Leafs 3-1 in their first-round series. Montreal is 15-2 all-time when they win Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final. The Lightning have never won Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final in their previous three appearances, but are 2-1 all-time in the Final. In fact, each of the last three teams to win the Stanley Cup did so after losing the first game.