Wow! This has been one long and strange trip. Hasn’t it? The Montreal Canadiens and Tampa Bay Lightning face off in Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final tonight. The game won’t start right at 8:00 pm ET. Give it about 15-25 minutes or so.
This is going to be a little different than the normal Stanley Cup columns most are used to seeing. Let’s cut the crap here. 2021 has just been a little off still. Two teams that were division rivals in 2020 are playing each other in the Stanley Cup Final. Let that sink in for a minute. Then again, is it a bad thing?
We are blessed to have a Stanley Cup Final again in the first place. COVID is still very much around and though it has been less prevalent in some places. It is not in others.
The NHL is not without its share of controversy. It never is. Just ask Marc Bergevin.
Canadiens general manager Marc Bergevin says during his time with the Blackhawks he was “not aware” of sexual assault allegations made during the 2010 playoffs by an unidentified former player in the organization against a then-assistant coach.https://t.co/B4IGJP8unw
— Sportsnet (@Sportsnet) June 27, 2021
No matter where this story goes, it is clear that there was a massive cover-up. Most are just finding out about these incidents which happened over a decade ago. A bunch of things does not add up and hopefully, all of the truth comes out at some juncture.
To the victims of Brad Aldrich, I do not expect mere words to comfort but I stand with you regardless.
More on the Montreal Canadiens — Stanley Cup Finalist
Those words above are just sinking in for most. The Montreal Canadiens will play tonight in the final round of a tournament that they have not done since 1993. Forget the “feels like 93” sentiment for a second and embrace this team of chance. This was a Montreal team given up on by many. They were down three games to one to Toronto. They were not picked by many experts to even get past round one.
Then they defied the odds in round two and then the Stanley Cup Semifinal for good measure. No matter what happens in this series versus the Tampa Bay Lightning, Montreal has done something amazing.
Montreal truly has zero to lose here. Yes, Joel Armia is likely out tonight barring something unexpected but Jake Evans may be in. That is great news if it does pan out. Montreal will need every bit of help they can muster against a team that they have not faced in over a year.
Simply, the Montreal Canadiens must play their game tonight. This run has been made more special because that is just what Dominique Ducharme, Luke Richardson, and Alexandre Burrows have instilled in Montreal.
Teams like this just do not come this way often. Embracing that infectious spirit is paramount. Montreal is the underdog Cinderella no doubt about it.
Make no mistake that they can play with Tampa Bay and can turn this into a long series. Perhaps, Montreal can win this best-of-seven. However, even if they do not, the Montreal Canadiens have proven that they more than belong.
They are the Montreal Canadiens — 2021 Stanley Cup Finalist.