NHL Playoff Vibe Check: And then there were two

Just like we all expected, the Montreal Canadiens and the Tampa Bay Lightning, right?

If there was going to have to be a Stanley Cup Final in Cancer sun season for the first time ever it was going to be chaotic. The Canadiens tore through the Canadian division, and that was one thing, but now they’ve defeated the Golden Knights. That’s something else.

So here we have the Canadiens trying bring the Cup back to Canada in a series where for the most part teams weren’t even allowed to go to Canada, and the Lightning looking to become the first back-to-back champions since the Penguins in 2016-17.

There’s a lot of weird Stanley Cup Final vibes, like how in the last three seasons there’s been a team who fired their coach mid-season to make it. The 2019 vibes for the Blues were something else and that was the last normal one of these.

These vibes aren’t the same as an empty arena in Edmonton were two teams from the south battled, but they’re sure not normal vibes either. Anyways, Because it’s the Cup, or something.

[NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs 2021 schedule, TV info]

Tampa Bay Lightning

The vibe: When Southern U.S. teams keep beating Canadian teams

Energy check: WILL LIGHTNING STRIKE TWICE?

The Lightning have still not lost two games in a row the entire postseason. Until they faced the Islanders, they were the underdogs. They took down a Florida team they struggled with all season, then a Cup favorite in Carolina. The Islanders were a different type of test; they, also, had been underdogs throughout, and had stolen momentum and stuck with it.

Unlike their first two rounds, though, the Islanders couldn’t hold it against the Lighting. Again, they haven’t lost two games in a row; it’s been impossible to pick up any sort of runway. The Lightning depth is a part of that; Steven Stamkos hadn’t scored all series until Game 5 and they didn’t miss a beat. The real reason though is probably Andrei Vasilevskiy.

The Canadiens have faced good goaltending, having no problem with Winnipeg’s Connor Hellebuyck and then facing Vezina-candidate Marc-Andre Fleury right when the Golden Knights decided to invent a goalie controversy.

Vasilevskiy has shut out opponents in each of his last four series-clinching games. He plays his best during the toughest moments, which is why it seems like the Lightning just charge (get it) through these situations with ease.

The Canadiens are a different team than anyone else the Bolts have dealt with. Vasilevskiy is also better.

Montreal Canadiens

The vibe: Cancer szn mayhem

Energy check: You’re here, there’s nothing I fear!

What to make of the absolute most chaotic vibes possible? There were only so many objectively wild results for this matchup heading into the postseason and most of them involved the Canadiens. Every time I think about how the Canadiens have done this I think about the Bo Burnham “Bezos” song where he goes “You did it!”

They did it! They beat the Golden Knights, a team not in Canada, and are in the Stanley Cup for the first time since 1993. Did you know that was before Twitter existed? That was a long time ago.

That was the last time any Canadian team won it, too. Every odd was against this Canadiens team except, they are here anyways. Perhaps it’s because Corey Perry is the new brand of Pat Maroon just appearing in every Cup Final. Perhaps it’s because Carey Price is doing his best Ken Dryden impression.

Either way, the Canadiens vibes are off the charts. Anyone who says they expected this is lying. We all saw your predictions.

CANADIENS VS. LIGHTNING – series livestream link

Game 1: Mon. June 28: Canadiens at Lightning, 8 p.m. ET (NBCSN / Peacock)
Game 2: Wed. June 30: Canadiens at Lightning, 8 p.m. ET (NBCSN / Peacock)
Game 3: Fri. July 2: Lightning at Canadiens, 8 p.m. ET (NBC)
Game 4: Mon. July 5: Lightning at Canadiens, 8 p.m. ET (NBC)
*Game 5: Wed. July 7: Canadiens at Lightning, 8 p.m. ET (NBC)
*Game 6: Fri. July 9: Lightning at Canadiens, 8 p.m. ET (NBC)
*Game 7: Sun. July 11: Canadiens at Lightning, 7 p.m. ET (NBC)

*if necessary

Marisa Ingemi is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop her a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow her on Twitter @Marisa_Ingemi.

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