Game 1 of the 2021 Stanely Cup Final is in the books between the Tampa Bay Lightning and Montreal Canadiens. The Lightning overpowered the Canadiens taking Game 1 by a score of 5-1. Everyone expected the Lightning to be in this position as they are the defending Stanley Cup Champions as they have shown why through the first three rounds. The pressure is on them to repeat.
Montreal on the other hand is the underdog, but they are not playing like an underdog. In fact, the Canadiens since Game 5 of their first-round series against Toronto have been the second-best team in the playoffs behind the Lightning. But now is when the fun begins after Game 1. Because we have since in the past especially over the past three seasons losing the first game of the 2021 Stanley Cup Final does not mean that team will lose the Stanely Cup.
In addition, we have seen teams get blown out in Game 1 and come back much better in Game 2. Now is the time for adjustments to happen especially for Montreal. They need to figure out a way to slow down this high-powered Lightning offence but stick to their style of play. But even Tampa Bay will have to adjust because even though they might not have to change much, the Lightning will try to strategize for what Montreal is going to bring in Game 2.
Montreal Adjustments Heading Into Game 2
The Montreal Canadiens and their coaching staff will need to get back to playing their style of game that made them so successful in the first three rounds of the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Again one game does not make a series, but they were overmatched by the Lightning in Game 1. The Canadiens need to establish their defensive structure from the get-go and take the game to the Lightning. Carey Price can only do so much against that high-powered offence the Lightning has.
A big adjustment the Canadiens need to make is matching that line of Phillip Danault, Brendan Gallagher and Arturri Lehkonen up against the top line of Tampa Bay. We all knew Montreal was going to start that line, so Jon Cooper decided to put the Blake Coleman line out against them. From there, Montreal made a mistake to keep them out there. They should have put one of their more skilled lines out there. Now that line with Coleman, Yanni Gourde and Barclay Goodrow cannot only defend but score as well. But that is not the matchup the Canadiens want.
What made them so successful is having that Danualt line shutting down the top players from the other team. Look what they did against Auston Matthews, Mitch Marner, Kyle Connors, Mark Stone, and Max Pacioretty. Not only did they shut these guys down, but that line scored some big goals for the team. Danault has been the most valuable player to the Canadiens besides Price. That is one adjustment I would make going forward make sure Danualt is up against Nikita Kucherov, Brayden Point and Ondrej Palat.
That means the Canadiens can get Tyler Toffoli, Cole Caufield, and Nick Suzuki line out against another line to create offence. That line did not have a good Game 1of the 2021 Stanley Cup Final. But they were stuck out for three goals against Tampa’s top line. Going forward Montreal needs to get them on the ice against a different line. That way that line can operate at a higher level.
Another adjustment the Canadiens need to make is putting Joel Armia back in the lineup. Jake Evans looked out of place. Granted he hadn’t played since Game 1 of Round 2, but Armia with Corey Perry and Eric Staal has been outstanding. If Armia can get cleared and is ready for Game 2, then he has to go in. It brings another element to the Canadiens lineup.
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Tampa Bay Lightning Adjustments
There are not too many adjustments the Lightning need to make going forward. Jon Cooper made a big adjustment on the power play. He put five forwards out there against the Montreal penalty kill that was lights out. That adjustment powered the Lightning to victory. As mentioned before he got his top players out against the young players of the Canadiens. He will need to keep doing that going forward. The only Tampa Bay loses is if they beat themselves. Don’t get overconfident because Montreal will be coming with everything they got in Game 2.