The Cinderella story that has stunned the hockey world simply refuses to end, with the Canadiens pulling off a stunning upset of the Vegas Golden Knights in six games. In the deciding contest, it was Artturi Lekhonen that sent la belle province into a frenzy, with an overtime winner that will surely go down in history.
The team that limped into the playoffs as the fourth seed, and looked like nothing more than cannon fodder for the vaunted Toronto Maple Leafs, has now shocked the hockey world through all three rounds of the playoffs, and in decisive fashion. Montreal was handed nothing, and out-performed three teams that were, frankly, far better on paper.
With yet another improbable win, the Canadiens secured themselves a date with the Tampa Bay Lightning, and a chance to win the Stanley Cup for the first time since 1993: another year in which they were heavy underdogs.
But as we well know, Montreal’s drought was not the only one to begin after their Cup win 28 years ago. Their five-game series win on June 9th, 1993 marked the last time that a team from north of the border hoisted Lord Stanley’s hardware, and were crowned as champions of the National Hockey League. Since Montreal ripped the Cup from the hands of Wayne Gretzky, and Luc Robitaille, many a Canadian team has tried, but all have been struck down.
From 2004-2007, they had plenty of chances. The Calgary Flames endured a crushing — and criminal, if we’re being honest — seven-game loss to the Lightning. The Edmonton Oilers, on an underdog run of their own, were dealt the same fate by the Carolina Hurricanes in 2006. I don’t need to remind you of what happened to the Ottawa Senators in their first and only visit to the Stanley Cup Final the following season, but let’s say that the Anaheim Ducks’ Stanley Cup victory was...convincing.
The Vancouver Canucks had an opportunity of their own just ten years ago, but the Boston Bruins handed them yet another seven-game heartbreak, and until now, they were the last team from Canada to play in the championship series.
It’s a point that often sticks in the craw of hockey purists, who say that Canadian squads have been unfairly knocked off of their pedestal at the top of the hockey world. Since Montreal’s last win, California teams have been to the Stanley Cup Final a total of five times, earning three championships, compared to Canada’s collective four appearances and big fat “0” in the win column.
While the silliness of treating the league’s seven Canadian teams as one collective, and rooting against American teams that are mostly comprised of good ol’ Northern boys, the notion of “Canada’s team” still lives on, for some reason. It’s becoming more roundly rejected, and thank God for that, but there is a large contingent of fans looking to jump on the Canadiens’ bandwagon, so to speak.
This presents something of a dilemma for fans of the Senators, many of whom live in close proximity to Montreal, and may have even been fans of the Canadiens before the Sens’ return in the early nineties. The Senators and Canadiens have grown to become bitter rivals over the past two decades, amplified by some tightly-contested, hate-fuelled playoff series’. Ottawa got the better of Montreal in five games during the first round of the 2013 playoffs, while the Canadiens returned the favour in six games during the 2015 first round, spoiling the remarkable Hamburglar run.
Senators fans may have some difficult decisions to make as we roll into the Stanley Cup Final. A good percentage of the Ottawa faithful would probably sacrifice a limb to enjoy the suffering of the raucous Canadiens fanbase, but one has to admit that Montreal is a cool story this season. This is, of course, to say nothing of any historical, or geographical influences that could see Sens fans temporarily pulled to the dark side.
So, dear readers, it’s a relatively straightforward question for you this week: Whose side do you stand on for the 2021 Stanley Cup Final?
As a Sens fan, how do you feel about the Montreal Canadiens?
This poll is closed
I’m on the bandwagon! Go Habs Go!
I don’t love it, but I don’t mind if they win
I couldn’t care less altogether
ABM: Anyone but Montreal