By: Victor Herrera
Headline Photo Credit: NHL.com
The Tampa Bay Lightning are returning to defend their Stanley Cup against the Montreal Canadiens. There are two different stories to be finished in this year’s Stanley Cup Final. On one side we have a fast, veteran team who have proven to be champion worthy in the past. While on the other you have a team that nobody thought could make it, all while trying to end a 28-year championship drought not just for their team but the country of Canada.
If the Montreal Canadiens want to win their 25 Stanley Cup, all hope will fall on the shoulders of Carey Price. Price has been red hot as of late in net with his acrobatic saves, averaging a save percentage of .934. Being a former Olympic gold medalist, all Price needs is a Stanley Cup to add this to his hall of fame career. Price is a big reason this team has made it this far.
Montreal has had a great combination of young and veteran players through this year. It is no secret once the young star Cole Caufield came into the league, he has taken it by storm. Caufield has had one point in seven of their last eight games played. Lastly, the penalty kill for this team must continue to be the best in the playoffs for the Habs to have a chance at winning the cup. This is the type of play that can make a difference in this series.
The Tampa Bay Lightning have had a hot goalie of their own in Andre Vasilevskiy. Vasilevskiy has had a save percentage of .936 throughout this postseason. Only averaging 1.98 goals allowed. Vasilevskiy will have to stay red hot and show why he has been a finalist for the Vezina every year.
I expect Brayden Point to be the player to watch for this Lightning team. Point has scored 14 goals in 18 games this postseason. His ability to find open space and put the puck in the back of the net has been a big reason for the Lightning’s success. Just as I mentioned above to offset the great Canadiens penalty kill, the Lightning must counter on the man advantage when given the opportunity.
An interesting fact going into this Stanley Cup is the fact that Patrick Maroon will be going for his third consecutive Stanley Cup ring. He won his first with the St. Louis Blues and looks to win his second with the Tampa Bay Lightning.
My prediction is that the offense of the Lighting will not stand the test of the Canadiens defense. Cole Caufield will struggle at the beginning but will gain confidence as the series goes on. Tyler Toffoli will step up big for the Habs and lead the way in points. Both goalies will play fantastic, and all games will be low-scoring. Montreal will ride Carey Price and the penalty kills to win the cup in 6 games. The winner of the Conn Smythe will be Tyler Toffoli.