Habs Carey Price Montreal Canadiens Stanley Cup Finals

The Habs brought pride, unity and excitement back to a city that was dormant for too long

“So much has changed in just five weeks. And it’s only the beginning of the glory that awaits.”

Five weeks ago, the Montreal Canadiens were down 3–1 in a series against their heavily favoured rivals, the Toronto Maple Leafs. On the brink of elimination, the general sentiment around town was one of disappointment and cynicism. Some fans demanded the firing of staff while others argued for a complete rebuild. In essence, hope was lost, and a comeback was a longshot.

But then somehow, things started to change. The team we thought we knew became unrecognizable, shedding their old skin. A Game 5 overtime win was followed by another in Game 6, allowing them to tie the series. Lines were clicking, allowing momentum to shift. Rookies like Caufield and Suzuki played beyond their years, while veterans like Perry and Weber managed to turn back the clock. And most importantly, Carey Price was back to being Carey Price. Once they pushed it to Game 7, it was all Habs from then on out.

The Habs still fighting in Game 5 of the Stanley Cup Finals 2021

Disappointing the Leafs and proving nearly every hockey analyst wrong gave Montreal the bolster of confidence it needed for what would happen next. And what happened next was something amazing.

As COVID restrictions eased up and temperatures got warmer, game nights became city-wide events. Bars, restaurants, backyards and downtown streets were packed to the brim with screaming partisans. Then, in their seventh consecutive win, the Canadiens swept the Winnipeg Jets, taking the second round in cakewalk fashion. People were beginning to realize that maybe this team was for real, and not just a fluke.

After winning the North Division, Montreal got set to face the Vegas Golden Knights. And once again, analysts doubted them, claiming they were “playing with house money.” But fans didn’t give in to the odds this time. There was something special about this team and they knew it. 

The battle was hard fought, presenting many setbacks. A positive COVID test from Coach Dominique Ducharme sidelined him for the latter half of the series, forcing the Habs to improvise. Then there was the abysmal officiating of referee Chris Lee, who infamously turned a blind eye to cheap shots and sucker punches. But still, Montreal would not quit, winning the series in 6 games in dramatic overtime fashion. As they gathered around the Clarence Campbell trophy in celebration, one couldn’t help but believe. The feeling was electric. 

Montreal Canadiens, Game 4

Unfortunately all this “electricity” was ultimately diminished by the team named after it. The magic and momentum would not be enough as the Canadiens were just not strong enough to take out the Tampa Bay Lightning. They fought hard but the returning champs proved too big an obstacle, ending Montreal’s miraculous run.

While it’s easy to be bitter after coming so far and leaving empty handed, the Canadiens have absolutely nothing to be ashamed of. Nobody gave them the credit they deserved as they exceeded every expectation. In their best on-ice display in over 20 years, they brought pride, unity and excitement back to a city that was dormant for too long. Our beloved Habs have once again earned their place in the city’s hierarchy. 

So much has changed in just five weeks. And it’s only the beginning of the glory that awaits. 

Go Habs Go. ■

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