The Montreal Canadiens hold a special distinction in Canada — they’re the last of the seven Canadian teams to have captured the Stanley Cup, defeating the Los Angeles Kings in 1993.
This year, they’re looking to bring Lord Stanley’s Mug back across the 49th parallel.
Montreal currently finds itself down 0-2 in the Eastern Conference Final to the New York Rangers, but has shown great resiliency in getting to this point — suggesting they won’t go down to the Blueshirts without a fight.
Let’s take a look at how the Habs got here…
Round 1: Beat Tampa Bay 4-0
Montreal scored the lone sweep of the ’14 playoffs (thus far) by dispatching of a Tampa Bay team that actually finished ahead of the Canadiens in the Atlantic Division standings, and held home-ice advantage in Round 1. The big key to the Habs’ opening-round win was goaltending — specifically, Tampa Bay’s lack of it. With Bolts starter Ben Bishop unable to go due to an elbow injury, Anders Lindback was forced into No. 1 duties and struggled mightily, surrendering 14 goals over the four games and twice getting yanked in favor of Kristers Gudlevskis.
Offensively, the Habs were paced by Rene Bourque (three goals) and Lars Eller (five points) in what proved to be an easy four-game broom job of the Bolts.
Round 2: Beat Boston 4-3
In one of the most exciting series to date, the Habs dispatched of their longtime rivals thanks in large part to the stellar play of Carey Price. His 48-save masterpiece in double-OT of Game 1 was one of the finest efforts of his career, but he’ll largely be remembered for clutch performances in elimination situations in Games 6 and 7, when he allowed just one goal on a combined 56 shots, winning the final game in TD Garden in front of a silenced Bruins crowd.
Price wasn’t the only Canadien to come up big against the Bruins, however. After struggling through most of the series, Max Pacioretty — who finished fourth in the NHL in goals this year, with 39 — came alive in Games 6 and 7, scoring three points (which included the game-winning goal in Game 7.) Montreal also got great production from defenseman P.K. Subban throughout the series, as he finished with seven points in seven games.
Of course, many of the good vibes from Montreal’s opening two rounds were wiped out when Price was hurt in Game 1 of the Rangers series, and ruled out for the remainder of the Eastern Conference Final. If the Habs are going to show the same resiliency they displayed in the Boston series, they’ll need 24-year-old replacement goalie Dustin Tokarski to show up on the big stage, starting with tonight’s affair at MSG.