When Monty Python Meets the Montreal Canadiens?
The simple opening to all of this is the following.
Hello, Montreal, I was wrong.
I thought you would have a difficult time with Winnipeg’s speed and depth. There was this idea that Connor Hellebuyck would outplay Carey Price just enough. Winnipeg had the better power play and was able to slow down the Edmonton Oilers in a sweep.
I forgot the most simply Monty Python-like adage:
Those who sweep also get swept.
It is an extremely crazy notion but has happened a few times in recent years again. Obviously, now with Winnipeg. However, two years ago, the New York Islanders swept the Pittsburgh Penguins. Then, they were swept by the Carolina Hurricanes in the next round.
Then, the irony is that Carolina was swept in the Eastern Conference Final by the Boston Bruins. This is rare but it proves that outcomes like this can happen.
Should we have seen this outcome coming for Montreal?
Again, there are some compelling numbers and statistics out there that might have shown us the way. Were we a little mesmerized by how Winnipeg found a way to silence Edmonton effectively? Yes. This is data that does not lie.
This is what the Jets are. Year after year. This is how much goaltending can mask. These results can’t be acceptable. The Jets’ roster is not one of the worst in the NHL. It just isn’t. Announce Maurice fired please. pic.twitter.com/AiEXsnRktk
— Bryan Johnston (@BryanJohnston18) June 8, 2021
Now, that is one ugly trend for the Winnipeg Jets. It is not like Winnipeg is devoid of offensive talent either. Yes, the suspension of Mark Scheifele exacerbated matters. However, Montreal, even in Game 1, mostly controlled the top center’s line. The pivot himself only had two shots on goal and not much quality.
The wind was taken out of Winnipeg’s sails well after the Scheifele hit on Jake Evans. Dominque Ducharme, for what it’s worth, rolled his more youthful lines out early in Game 1. It paid dividends. They executed and Winnipeg did not. Montreal scored three times in that first 20 minutes (almost four) and never looked back.
Honestly, the series was over already before it barely started. It was right there in front of our eyes.
Mostly everybody just chose not to see it and I, myself included.
After Game 1, Game 2 was a clinical shutdown and goalie duel. Game 3 was the conquering home team taking advantage of seemingly every opportunity. Game 4 was the inevitability of it all — the dominating team eventually winning sending the home fans into a total frenzy.
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Montreal’s Game 4 Dominance? Oui!
The Montreal Canadiens sensed the end was near and played like the Toronto Maple Leafs did last round. There was one difference. Montreal finished where Toronto could not. Some of the numbers were misleading. At times, Winnipeg was definitely more engaged in Game 4 than they were anytime in the brief series. Kyle Connor was the one consistent thorn in Montreal’s side and helped pave the way for Winnipeg’s two goals on Monday night.
Connor basically set up Logan Stanley twice and it was the most unexpected Winnipeg defenseman of all that wound up on the scoresheet.
The numbers from Natural Stats Trick paint an interesting story at even strength. There were times in the fourth game where Montreal should have just run Winnipeg right out of the building. During the long line change of the second period and overtime was the height of Montreal’s dominance.
In that 19:58 of total even-strength play, Montreal had all six high-danger scoring chances. Also, overall scoring chances were 11-2 and expected goals for was 1.6 to Winnipeg’s 0.08.
Winnipeg’s first two goals went against the overall flow of play. That became more and more amplified. There was a dip midway through the third period before Montreal surged again.
From the start of overtime, Winnipeg looked like a team ready for the end. That was 99 seconds of pretty much pure Montreal domination. It was punctuated by Tyler Toffoli’s goal and the work of Cole Caufield and Nick Suzuki — the young guns.
In that way, the end was poetic. The infusion of Suzuki and particularly Caufield along with Jesperi Kotkaniemi sparked the Montreal comeback against Toronto. Seeing young players succeeding and thriving in a high-pressure environment is always great to see.
Over the coming days, there will be more on the Montreal sweep and what may be next. The important thing is that the Canadiens are moving on and going to America.