Tyler Toffoli – Nick Suzuki – Cole Caufield
Artturi Lehkonen – Phillip Danault – Brendan Gallagher
Paul Byron – Jesperi Kotkaniemi – Josh Anderson
Joel Armia – Eric Staal – Corey Perry
Ben Chiarot – Shea Weber
Brett Kulak – Joel Edmundson
Alexander Romanov – Erik Gustafsson
Carey Price – Jake Allen
Tomas Tatar, Michael Frolik, Charlie Lindgren
Alex Belzile, Laurent Dauphin, Lukas Vejdemo, Jesse Ylonen, Cale Fleury, Otto Leskinen, Xavier Ouellet, Cayden Primeau, Michael McNiven
Jonathan Drouin (undisclosed), Jon Merrill (undisclosed), Jake Evans (concussion), Jeff Petry (hand)
This has been the season of the unexpected. And the Montreal Canadiens have taken their cue to become the unanticipated champions of the North Division. But that doesn’t mean that their success has been accidental.
The Canadiens swept the Winnipeg Jets by employing a relentless forecheck that pressured Jets defencemen into making mistakes. They had little room to breath. At the other end of the ice, Habs defencemen, primarily Shea Weber, Ben Chiarot and Joel Edmundson punished Winnipeg forwards.
And the Canadiens skaters were able to be effective in their roles because they had Carey Price in goal. Price’s elite level goaltending provided each player on the team with a supercharged boost in confidence. They knew that Price would extinguish any fires that they had created.
The Jets did not get the first goal in any of the four games played in the series. Price shutdown opposition shooters early until his teammates could turn the tide to score and take a lead. Winnipeg did not hold a lead at any time in this series.
And that was big. It allowed the Canadiens to follow their game plan and outscore the Jets 14-6 over four games. Price ended the series with a record of 4-0, with a 1.49 goals against average, a .942 save percentage and one shutout.
The confidence engendered by Price ensured that the Canadiens didn’t beat themselves. Mistakes that were commonplace during the regular season have not appeared.
Under the radar players like Joel Armia and Artturi Lehkonen have made significant contributions in the playoffs. Lehkonen’s ability to fight for position and tip a point shot for a goal tonight was a thing of beauty.
Canadiens youth, most of whom did not have the trust of the interim head coach to start the playoffs have had a major impact. Nick Suzuki and Jesperi Kotkaniemi are tied with Armia and Tyler Toffoli for the team lead in goals. Cole Caufield has assisted on two game-winning goals. And after a solid game tonight, it all seems rather silly that Alexander Romanov has been watching the playoffs from the press box until now.
The Canadiens will have some time until the next series, time to rest and heal and time to prepare for an opponent that they haven’t faced all season. Montreal will meet the winner of the Avalanche – Golden Knights series which currently sits at 2-2. The Canadiens will have a day off on Tuesday.
▲ Carey Price, Shea Weber, Artturi Lehkonen, Tyler Toffoli, Nick Suzuki, Cole Caufield, Brendan Gallagher
▼ Corey Perry, Eric Staal, Jesperi Kotkaniemi, Paul Byron, Josh Anderson
Check out the game preview here: Jets @ Canadiens: One Win Away | HABS GAME 4 PREVIEW