Habs flare up after clinching a ticket to the Stanley Cup final
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The Montreal Canadiens are magic
One of the NHL’s most unlikely playoff series continued last night when Montreal beat Vegas 3-2 in overtime to complete a six-game reversal and advance to the Stanley Cup Final. No one saw it coming for the lower-ranked team in the playoffs, but the Habs are the first Canadian team to reach the Cup final since Vancouver lost Game 7 to Boston 10 years ago.
With four more wins, they become the first Canadian team to lift the Cup since the 1993 Habs – which is fitting, as this team was also quite miraculous. Ranked just third in the Adams Division, Patrick Roy and company lost their first game of the playoffs to the Quebec Nordiques in overtime before going 10-0 in overtime to the end, including three sudden death wins against the LA Kings of Wayne Gretzky in the final.
The current Canadians have also been very good in overtime, going 5-1. And they’re 4-0 in sudden death when one of the teams faces elimination. It might seem like a million years ago, but Montreal looked dead in the water in the first round after losing three straight games to Toronto (by a combined score of 11-2!) Game 5. But the Canadiens have won that one and the next in overtime, and later they sent the Jets and Golden Knights to score in overtime.
Some other interesting things about these Canadians:
They will take your soul as a better player. Auston Matthews of Toronto scored one goal in seven games against Montreal after registering a league-high 41 in the regular season. His sidekick Mitch Marner, who placed fourth in the points race, didn’t score at all against the Habs and is now an outcast of Leaf Nation. Mark Scheifele of Winnipeg retired from the series with a heavy hitting in Game 1 that earned him a four-game suspension. Mark Stone of Vegas got “skunked”, as he called it, failing to register a single point in six games.
Carey Price is in the area. With all due respect to Montreal’s skaters, who are peaking at the right time, a team like this wouldn’t be able to reach the Cup final without fiery goalies. Price is hell right now, leading every playoff goaltender except (oddly enough) Toronto’s Jack Campbell in goals against average (2.02) and save percentage (0.934). Roy’s 1993 race is legendary. If the Habs win the Cup this year, Price could make history next door.
Their special teams are really special. The power play was solid, ranking fourth in conversion rate among the eight teams that reached at least the second round. The penalty, however, is out of this world. Montreal’s 93.5 percent success rate is by far the best in the playoffs and a huge improvement over the team’s 78.5 percent regular season mark, which placed 23rd. The Habs have now eliminated an incredible 30 consecutive power play opportunities for their opponents and have not allowed a power play goal in 13 games. It’s the longest playoff streak since the NHL started tracking things like this in 1933-1934. As you might expect, Price was a shorthanded brick wall. He stopped 60 of 63 shots on goal he faced in the playoffs when his team was shorthanded. That’s a save percentage of .952, which shouldn’t even be possible in these gallery conditions.
Montreal now awaits the winner of the seventh game tonight between defending champion Tampa Bay Lightning and the New York Islanders (8 p.m. ET on CBC TV, CBCSports.ca and the CBC Sports app). Whoever takes it will host Game 1 of the Cup final, which is scheduled to take place on Monday evening. The Habs could be an outsider once again – and certainly against Tampa. But how to bet against such a hot team? Learn more about the Montreal storybook all the way to the Cup final in this story from CBC Sports Contributor Vicki Hall.
A Canadian basketball player might have to choose between the Olympics and her baby girl. National Women’s Team goalie Kim Gaucher breastfeeds her three-month-old baby. Under normal circumstances, Gaucher would take him to Tokyo. But, due to the pandemic, Olympic organizers have established a rule that family members and friends of athletes are not allowed to attend. The Canadian Olympic Committee and Canada Basketball said an appeal has been made for Gaucher’s daughter and husband to be allowed to accompany him to Japan. But the rule has yet to be relaxed, forcing Gaucher to try and plead his case through social media and the press. Her simple request: “It’s 2021. Let’s see if we can make working mothers normal.” Learn more about Gaucher’s plight in this story from CBC Sports’ Myles Dichter.
Canada’s Derek Drouin will not defend his Olympic high jump title. The 31-year-old’s career has been cut short by serious injuries since winning gold in Rio. He suffered a herniated disc in his neck and tore both Achilles tendons. Drouin made his first Diamond League appearance in four years last month, but he finished in the middle of the field and still hadn’t broken the Olympic standard before this week’s Canadian track trials. Today Drouin withdrew from testing and announced he was giving up Tokyo, saying his body was just not up to the task. Learn more about Drouin’s decision to end his Olympic quest here.
Two Canadian women are in the mix at the PGA Women’s Championship. Alena Sharp came into the day just two head shots after shooting a 3-minus in the first round. She was at the start of her second round at the time of our posting. Brooke Henderson was in the clubhouse tied for the tournament after shooting a less than 2 shot today. The Women’s PGA is the third major tournament of the season and the last tournament before the world rankings is locked for Olympic qualification. Henderson, who is ranked fifth in the world, is an obvious lock for Tokyo. Sharp is 143rd, but is also expected to enter due to limits on the number of golfers each country is allowed to send. View an updated PGA Women’s Championship standings here.
Canada will play for gold at the World Para Ice Hockey Championships. The 2-1 semi-final victory over Russia in the Czech Republic earned the Canadians a gold medal showdown with the United States. The Americans crushed Korea 9-0 in the other semi-final. This is the fifth consecutive time that the United States and Canada have met in the final. They split the previous four, with the Americans winning the last, in 2019. The United States also beat Canada in the 2018 Paralympic final to claim their third straight gold medal. Watch the latest Team Championship Battle live Saturday at 3 p.m. ET on CBCSports.ca and the CBC Sports app. You can also watch the bronze game at noon ET.
This weekend on CBC Sports
Besides the aforementioned Para-hockey medal games, here are the sports you can live stream and watch on TV:
Volleyball: Watch the Men’s Nations League semi-finals live Saturday at 5:15 a.m. ET and 8:45 a.m. ET, the bronze medal game Sunday at 5:15 a.m. ET and the gold medal game Sunday at 8:15 a.m.ET 45 hrs ET on CBCSports.ca and the CBC Sports app.
Canadian Elite Basketball League: It is the opening weekend of the third season of the CEBL. Watch the Hamilton Honey Badgers vs. defending champions Edmonton Stingers live Saturday at 4 p.m. ET on the CBC TV network, CBCSports.ca and the CBC Sports app. And watch the Saskatchewan Rattlers vs. the Fraser Valley Bandits live Saturday at 7 p.m. ET on CBCSports.ca and the CBC Sports app.
On the way to the Olympic Games: This week’s show features the best performances from Canada’s Olympic Swimming Trials, where Summer McIntosh, 14, won two events, Brent Hayden, 37, qualified for her fourth Olympics, Penny Oleksiak earned the right to defend his gold medal in the 100m freestyle. , and reigning world champions Kylie Masse and Maggie Mac Neil won their best events. Watch the show Saturday from 2:30 p.m. to 4 p.m. ET on the CBC TV network, CBCSports.ca and the CBC Sports app.
And check …
The GIST newsletter: At the upcoming Tokyo Olympics, most of Canada’s medals will be won by women. So now is the perfect time to jump into this fun and informative newsletter written by Canadian women with a passion for women’s sports and new perspectives on men’s sports. Subscribe for free here.
You are aware. Have a nice week end.