Canadiens Cinderella run coming to an end against Lightning

lightning canadiens final
Jul 2, 2021; Montreal, Quebec, CAN; Tampa Bay Lightning center Tyler Johnson (9) is congratulated by teammates after scoring his second goal of the game as Montreal Canadiens center Eric Staal (21) and right wing Joel Armia (40) look on during the third period in game three of the 2021 Stanley Cup Final at the Bell Centre. Mandatory Credit: Eric Bolte-USA TODAY Sports

The clock has almost struck midnight on the Montreal Canadiens. The carriage that has gotten them this far turning back into a pumpkin. After a miraculous run that started down 3 games to 1 to the Leafs, the Habs’ Cinderella story is coming to an end.

Montreal came into the playoffs with the lowest point total of any of the 16 teams. They’ve been considered the underdog in every series played. Carey Price and the clutch Habs took out the Leafs in 7 games, swept the Jets in 4, and edged the Golden Knights in 6. Yet here they are just one more loss away from being swept in the Stanley Cup Final.

Canadiens Cinderella run coming to an end

We’ve seen this story before in the NHL. The 2016-17 Nashville Predators were tied for least points heading into the playoffs and fell in the Final to the Penguins in six games. To a degree, the 2014 New York Rangers who finished second in a weak Metropolitan Division but were 12th in points out of 16 teams qualify as a Cinderella. They eventually fell to the Kings in five.

The list goes on. Anyone remember the miracle Flyers run in 2009-10? They came in tied with the Habs for the least amount of points and were beaten in six by a Blackhawks team in the Final. Same for the 2005-2006 Oilers who fell in Game 7 of the Final versus the Hurricanes. That was the one Cinderella run many thought the Western Conference 8th seed would pull off.

Alas, all those stories ended the same. With a glass skate left behind on the steps of the arena where the last game was played.

On Monday, the Canadiens will fight to not go quietly into the night. They will put forth their best effort to hold that minute hand from chiming midnight. It is unlikely that they can do it four straight times against a Lightning team that has not lost two games in a row the entire postseason.

Habs putting on a brave face

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Jul 2, 2021; Montreal, Quebec, CAN; Tampa Bay Lightning center Tyler Johnson (9) scores against Montreal Canadiens goaltender Carey Price (31) during the third period in game three of the 2021 Stanley Cup Final at Bell Centre. Mandatory Credit: Jean-Yves Ahern-USA TODAY Sports

Former Hart and Vezina Trophy recipient Carey Price has yielded 13 goals on 79 shots during the first three games of the series against Tampa Bay. The Lightning hold a 3-0 lead in the best-of-seven series.

“Carey’s the guy playing on Monday. If people wonder who’ll be in net, Carey will be in net. You can talk about one guy but it’s about all of us. We have to be better in front of him,” Ducharme said Saturday.

“I can definitely play better. It’s just not good enough so far,” Price said of his .835 save percentage in the series. If the Canadiens hope to win four games in a row, he will have to be otherworldly.

“We aren’t ready to pack it in. We’re going to fight,” Ducharme said defiantly. “That’s what we want to do on Monday night to get the win.”

The bottom line is the Habs are facing the impossible against the NHL’s definition of excellence for the last two seasons. There’s no doubt they will put up a fight, and maybe they give the Bell Centre one more playoff win before the inevitable takes place. The odds are stacked high against them as this Cinderella story is nearing its end.