Regardless of the storied historical past of each golf equipment, the Toronto Maple Leafs host the Montreal Canadiens to face off in Sport 7 for simply the second time in 16 playoff collection (CBC, CBCSports.ca, 7 p.m. ET). The winner advances to battle the Winnipeg Jets within the subsequent spherical of the postseason.
This is a have a look at a number of the storylines:
The historical past
The tribal loyalties of the 2 golf equipment have been nicely established on and off the ice, the latter maybe most famously in Roch Service’s kids’s e-book The Hockey Sweater, which was then animated by the Nationwide Movie Board of Canada.
The playoff matchup pits the 2 NHL golf equipment with essentially the most championships in league historical past. The Canadiens as a franchise have gained 24 Stanley Cups, whereas the Maple Leafs hoisted Lord Stanley’s Cup on 13 events.
However that historical past, in a contemporary context, can mislead. Toronto famously hasn’t gained a Stanley Cup since 1967, so any Leafs fan underneath the age of, say, 54, seemingly has no reminiscence of their membership being the NHL champs.
Whereas a 54-year-old Habs fan can chuckle gleefully at that, given the actual fact their membership has gained 11 Stanley Cups since 1967, the Canadiens themselves are in a franchise-long 27-years-and counting championship drought. Such are the the perils of enjoying in a league that has 30-plus golf equipment, not simply six.
WATCH | How the Leafs-Habs playoff rivalry got here to be:
The Canadiens have gained eight of 15 playoff conferences between the golf equipment traditionally. A few generations of NHL gamers have come and gone for the reason that final assembly in 1979, when little-used Cam Connor, with the one playoff aim he ever scored for Montreal, serving to to sink the dagger in for Leafs followers then with a key time beyond regulation winner.
The 2 golf equipment final confronted off in a Sport 7 in a playoff collection in 1964. The Leafs gained that one, after which went on to beat Detroit for the Cup.
The winner of this collection advances to the North Division closing and takes on the Winnipeg Jets, idle since Could 24 after a sweep of the Edmonton Oilers.
Both Leafs coach Sheldon Keefe or Canadiens bench boss Dominique Ducharme will have a good time their first-ever NHL playoff collection win on Monday evening.
“We’re assured. We’ll Toronto to go to Winnipeg,” Ducharme stated on Sunday.
WATCH | Canadiens tie playoff collection with Quebec reopening:
Montreal has good cause to be assured, or no less than really feel like they don’t have anything to lose. The Canadiens overcame a training change in February, shrugged off a dispirited Sport 4 defeat that represented their eighth loss of their final 9 video games at that time, after which survived the late rallies by Toronto within the fifth and sixth video games.
The Leafs, in the meantime, are coping with the metaphorical monkey on the again, and never simply because they completed with 18 extra factors than the Habs within the common season.
Toronto final gained a playoff collection in 2004. To place that point span in context, in 2004, Canadiens defenceman Shea Weber was a teen profitable a Memorial Cup with Kelowna Rockets and Leafs ahead Auston Matthews was not but seven years previous, beginning his ascension by means of the Arizona minor hockey system. John Tortorella lifted the Stanley Cup that season with Tampa Bay, the fourth-last NHL workforce he is coached.
However regardless of the relative youth of the Toronto membership, one veteran sports activities wag within the metropolis has written that Sport 7 is nothing lower than the stage for Matthews and Mitch Marner to “salvage their reputations.”
The sport on Saturday at Bell Centre in Montreal noticed followers in a significant Canadian sports activities venue for the primary time since earlier than the pandemic in early 2020. Quebec officers signed off on a state of affairs wherein 2,500 followers had been allowed into the 21,000-plus capability constructing.
On Monday morning, the Ontario authorities introduced that 550 totally vaccinated frontline health-care employees would be capable of attend Sport 7 at Scotiabank Enviornment in Toronto.
“This small token of appreciation would not measure as much as the sacrifices they’ve made throughout COVID-19, however it is a chance for us to acknowledge their heroic efforts to maintain each considered one of us secure,” stated Premier Doug Ford in an announcement.
How we received right here
The final two video games have supplied a cavalcade of feelings for followers of each golf equipment. Toronto had been one shot away from eliminating the Canadiens and advancing to the second spherical of the playoffs in every recreation, however it’s additionally true that Montreal outplayed the Leafs for lengthy stretches in each of these contests.
Leafs followers feared the worst given their latest franchise historical past when captain John Tavares suffered head and knee accidents early in Sport 1 in a scary incident and was hospitalized. The Leafs did nicely to maintain their composure after that, however Habs goalie Carey Worth was, within the phrases of teammate Josh Anderson, “an absolute wall” in a 2-1 Montreal win.
WATCH | Kotkaniemi propels Habs to OT victory over Leafs in Sport 6:
Toronto’s William Nylander scored within the first 4 video games of the collection and the remainder of the Maple Leafs rallied in Tavares’s absence because the Ontario membership took a 3-1 collection lead.
The Canadiens managed the play for a lot of Sport 5 however coughed up a three-goal result in result in time beyond regulation. Two Toronto gamers then made errors on the identical play, with Nick Suzuki changing on the uncommon time beyond regulation 2-on-0 to provide the Habs new life within the collection.
Sport 6 was extra aggressive, however Montreal once more neutralized Toronto for a lot of the sport, with Worth stopping something coming his approach. The Canadiens scored two within the third interval, however Toronto then matched that.
Toronto seemed to be carrying the play for essentially the most half in time beyond regulation, however Jesperi Kotkaniemi snapped a shot previous Leafs goalie Jack Campbell to drive Sport 7.
Who to look at in Sport 7
Matthews rallied the troops within the wake of the Tavares harm with a four-point effort within the Sport 2 victory for Toronto. He is tallied only one help within the subsequent 4 video games. To name him a disappointment could be a stretch — he is fired 20 pictures on internet within the final 4 and gained extra faceoffs than he misplaced — however gamers of his calibre are requested to provide in moments like this.
Clearly the play between the pipes might be important. Worth and Campbell have each impressed within the collection, however there is a disparity in massive recreation expertise. The Montreal goalie has performed a trio of elimination video games within the NHL playoffs along with a wealth of huge worldwide contests, whereas Campbell is beginning his first Sport 7 within the NHL postseason.
Worth has allowed only one first-period aim within the collection up to now.
Then there’s the Toronto blue line. It is unclear if the banged-up Jake Muzzin is sweet to go, so how he’ll look if he fits up or how the Leafs pairings might be configured in his absence might be of be aware.
The longer term
The NHL hasn’t set a date for Sport 1 of the North closing, however the league has wasted little time in getting the postseason rounds rolling. The Vegas Golden Knights, for instance, performed Colorado on Sunday of their second-round opener after only one full time off following a seven-game first-round victory.
Toronto gained six of 10 video games throughout this common season in opposition to Winnipeg, whereas Montreal misplaced six of 9 in opposition to the Jets.
Winnipeg, in each incarnations of the Jets, has by no means confronted Montreal or Toronto within the postseason.
The reconfiguration of divisions this season on account of COVID-19 ensures a Canadian workforce might be among the many closing 4 groups competing for the Stanley Cup, for the primary time for the reason that Jets reached that stage in 2018. A Canadian workforce hasn’t gained the Stanley Cup for the reason that 1992-1993 run of the Canadiens.