Stanley Cup Playoffs
(Mark Blinch/NHLI via Getty Images)

#1 Toronto vs. #4 Montreal

Two of the most iconic and legendary teams in the National Hockey League will face each other in the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the first time since 1979. 

The North Division has been an interesting one to watch this season. From the COVID devastation in Vancouver to hockey Jesus in Edmonton to wanting to bathe with eels before hearing about Auston Matthews again, these first playoff rounds will be for the books, that’s for sure. 

Toronto is notorious for choking in the first round of the playoffs. Montreal is the oldest team in the league and has the most Stanley Cups. However, they haven’t brought home the hardware since 1995, Patrick Roy’s last season in the red and white. Coincidence? I think not. 

Season Series: 

As expected, this series was very Leafs-heavy. Toronto finished 6th in the league for goals scored. Forward line stars, Mitch Marner and Auston Matthews finished the regular season with the 4th and 5th most points in the league. Mathews with 66 points in 52 games and Marner with 67 points in 55 games. 

Montreal was not as offensively intimidating. They finished the regular season with the 17th most goals scored. Their top goalscorer was Tyler Toffoli with 44 points in 52 games. Those numbers would be below the top 5 on the Leafs. 

Defensively, the Leafs have struggled for several seasons. And what’s the point of having an explosive offense if your defense can’t keep up. With the additions of T.J Brodie, Jake Muzzin, Nick Foligno, and Alex Kerfoot, it’s added some much-needed balance to the Leaf’s roster. 

The Habs have been deep in the zone for quite a few seasons now.  Six players average more than one block per game. She Weber and Brendan Gallagher are expected to return from injuries for game one. I can’t imagine that will be anything but beneficial for this underdog Montreal team. 

Goal Tending: 

Both of these Canadian dynasties struggled with injury-ridden netminders. Freddie Anderson missed nearly half of the season for Toronto. Jack Campbell also missed quite a few games. Montreal’s Carey Price missed several games in April and May. 

Freddie Anderson did not play well when he was in the net. He had a .895 save percentage and a 2.96 goals-against average. 

Carey Price will more than likely make the start for the Habs. He has a .901 SV% and his tandem goalie, Jake Allen, has a .907 SV% Price has a 2.64 GAA while Allen has a 2.68 GAA 

The Outcome

This Stanley Cup Playoffs series will be very close. And as much as I hate to admit Toronto deserves something, both of these teams are capable and deserving of a series win. But overall, I think the Leaf’s top lines are stronger and faster than Montreals. Toronto with the win in 7.

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