After a 56-game sprint to the postseason and three exciting rounds, the Stanley Cup final is here.
One team, the defending champion Lightning, was expected to be here. The other, the Canadiens, who fired their coach in February, was not. But, that’s all moot now. Regardless of how and why, both teams earned the right to play for the top prize in sports.
“They’re going to get the best team they’ve played against so far and we’re going to get the best team we’ve played against so far,” Lightning captain Steven Stamkos said after his team defeated the Islanders. in Game 7 of the semifinals. “Fortunately, you don’t reach the final. Every team that arrives deserves it.”
The Lightning bring in a very potent offense that includes the NHL’s leading postseason scorer at Nikita Kucherov (27 points) and the leading scorer at Brayden Point (14 goals). Montreal brings the best closure forward, Phillip Danault, and a bunch of kids who are breaking it, including the addition of late-season Cole Caufield, who joined the team after winning the college hockey award for their best player, the Hobey Baker Award.
Both teams bring the heat between the pipes. Andrei Vasilevskiy has posted a .936 save percentage, an average of 1.99 goals against and four shutouts for Tampa Bay. Carey Price is there with a .934 save percentage, 2.02 goals against average and one shutout. It’s fair to say that the margins are very tight with these two at the finish line.
Montreal will once again be without coach Dominique Ducharme behind the bench due to COVID-19 protocols. Joel Armia’s status is also up in the air, due to the same. Armia flew to Tampa Bay by private plane on Monday.
Sporting News has all the action as the Lightning and Canadiens battle it out in the Stanley Cup final. (all Eastern time).
User ratings for Lightning vs. Canadiens Highlights from Game 1
9:28 pm – GOAL. From a blocked shot, Blake Coleman fires the puck that bounces off Yanni Gourde and outstrips Price. The goal came from a Gallagher draw on the lightning blue line. Tampa Bay leads 2-0.
9:25 pm – Carey Price steals Steven Stamkos’s shot from the right circle.
9:23 pm – WHISTLE! Puck passes Vasilevskiy and hits the post.
9:20 pm – The middle frame begins.
First period: Lightning 1, Canadiens 0
9:02 pm – The period is coming to an end. The Lightning will start the second period in the power play for 1:15.
8:59 pm – Now it will be Tampa Bay’s power play when Chiarot checks out Nikita Kucherov after a shot on goal. He gets two for rudeness and the NHL’s best penalty kill (93.5 percent) is going to work out. Oh, and the Lightning have the second-best power play (37.7 percent).
8:54 pm – Brendan Gallagher in the middle of things again. This time he draws a penalty when Barclay Goodrow crosses him over the head after Goodrow gave him a clean hit. Montreal heads to the power game (20.9 percent effective).
8:39 pm – More whistle jokes after a big hit from Ben Chiarot. Brendan Gallagher in the mix on this one too.
8:35 pm – GOAL. Erik Cernak crashed the net with the redirect up and over Carey Price’s glove. Tampa Bay leads 1-0.
8:34 pm – NBCSN shows that Brendan Gallagher and Shea Weber stepped on records and went down during warm-ups. They are fine and, well, hockey players are just like us. They also show Carey Price lifting a puck during warm-ups. That’s a no-no during warm-ups; never aim high at your own goalkeeper.
8:33 pm – Will Vasilevskiy’s exploration rise? Caufield and Toffoli missed high and another shot from Caufield was blocked by the upright goalkeeper.
8:28 pm – The boys greet each other for the first time. The division rivals have not seen each other since March 5, 2020, when the Bolts won 4-0.
8:25 pm – Puck has lost in the final of the Stanley Cup. Who will win it all? Stay tuned.
8:24 pm – Vincent Lecavalier, he of Lightning fame and also a native of Quebec, attended.
Before the game
7:53 pm – It looks like Jake Evans is back in the lineup. He’s been out since taking a hit from Mark Scheifele in Game 1 of the second round.
The Canadiens line hurries:
So it looks like Jake Evans IN, Joel Armia OUT
– Stephen Whyno (@SWhyno) June 28, 2021
7:50 pm – Joel Armia is on the ice for warm-ups, but, according to NBCSN, they weren’t rushing the line.
7:03 pm – These are some statistics.
Stanley Cup 2021: Latest News
Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.