Well, Toronto Maple Leafs fans, unfortunately, they did it again. As a result, the Leafs failed to advance to the second round of the playoffs for the fifth straight year. That playoff series saw losses to Washington, Boston (twice), Columbus and now Montreal.
Coming into this series, I made a bet with former colleague Cearra Howey; if the Montreal Canadiens won a series against the Leafs I would praise them in this column. Leaf fans, you may want to avert your eyes from this column, but this is me staying true to my word.
I guess the best place to begin is in the net. The Canadiens still boast one of the best goaltenders in the National Hockey League (NHL) in Carey Price. Price was instrumental in Montreal’s series win over Toronto, finishing the series with a 0.932 save percentage and a 2.24 goals against average. Throughout his career, Price has won an Olympic Gold Medal, taken home the Vezina Trophy as the NHL’s top goaltender, been an NHL All-Star several times, and won the American Hockey League (AHL) Calder Cup championship. As long as Price continues to be a superstar, the Canadiens’ future will continue to be bright.
As a franchise, the Montreal Canadiens have a long history of winning. They’ve won the most Stanley Cups of any NHL team, with 24 championship victories. In addition, they’ve had some of the NHL’s best players suit up in the blue, red and white, such as Maurice’ Rocket’ Richard, Jean Beliveau, Guy Lafleur, and Patrick Roy.
Currently, Montreal has some really promising young players in Nick Suzuki, Jesperi Kotkaniemi, Cole Caufield and Alexander Romanov. These players will help guide the Canadiens into a period of contending for a Stanley Cup for years to come.
The Canadiens also made some smart decisions during the free agency period, and at the trade deadline, adding players like Tyler Toffoli, Eric Staal and Corey Perry. This added to a core of experienced players, such as Brendan Gallagher, Phillip Danault and Shea Weber.
I never thought I would, one day, be using this column space to praise my favourite team’s most historic rival. But a deal is a deal. And to any Leafs fans reading this right now, don’t worry, I’m not going to switch my allegiances to the Canadiens or any other NHL squad. And I plan on writing, later on, about what the Leafs’ management should do in the offseason.