Habs are ready to embrace role as the underdogs in series vs Toronto

Published May 15, 2021 at 6:05 PM

For the second straight season the Canadiens will enter the Stanley Cup Playoffs as underdogs. Before they even entered the bubble in Toronto last year everyone had written them off, saying they would get swept by Pittsburgh in the Qualifying Round, but that didn't happen. The team came together and embraced the role that was thrown at them, beating the Penguins in four games in the best-of-five series, before ultimately losing in six games to Philadelphia.

Now, Montreal is ready to play the underdog role once again, this time against their archrivals, the Toronto Maple Leafs, who they haven't played in the playoffs since 1979.

Following Saturday's practice, Brendan Gallagher met with the media and was asked about the Canadiens being dubbed as the underdogs against Toronto.

The reporter asked "A lot of experts are giving this series to Toronto, how do you feel about you guys being the underdogs?"

Gallagher replied with "You know what, it's gonna sound real cliché but at no point do we really care. We know what type of group we have, we know what team we're playing against. They're a heck of a team, they do a lot of things well, they're hard to play against , they've got a lot of talent up front, their back end is deep, they've got two good goaltenders. We're aware of those things, but at the same we're confident in our group, we know the style that we can play to beat anybody in the league, we just gotta bring it. We have a good week here to get ready, it's gonna be a lot of fun. We have a group of guys that are really looking forward to it."

Reinforcements are on the way for Montreal. Phillip Danault, Brendan Gallagher, Shea Weber, and Carey Price are all expected to suit up when the Canadiens take to the ice on May 20th at the Scotiabank Arena in Toronto.

Danault, Gallagher, and Price were all at practice on Saturday, while captain Shea Weber skated beforehand. Habs interim head coach Dominique Ducharme says he's confident Weber will be good to go for game 1 on Thursday.

Gallagher's absence has been the longest among the four, and since he broke his thumb on April 5th the Canadiens have an abysmal record of 7-12-2 in 21 games. It's understandable why experts think Toronto will beat Montreal, but they shouldn't write them off just yet, especially with the players that are set to return. The Canadiens also reunited their top line of Tatar-Danault-Gallagher who will likely play a lot against the Leafs first line featuring Rocket Richard Trophy winner Auston Matthews and Mitch Marner.

Sportsnet revealed their predictions for the playoffs on Saturday afternoon and as was expected, every person involved chose the Leafs to win in either four or five games, except Habs reporter Eric Engels who chose Toronto to win in seven games.

It's obvious the Canadiens don't have the top end talent Toronto does, but they do have depth at every part of the rink, and they have some valuable experience too which includes six Stanley Cup winners, Eric Staal (2006 - Carolina), Corey Perry (2007 - Anaheim), Michael Frolik (2013 - Chicago), Tyler Toffoli (2014 - Los Angeles), Joel Edmundson (2019 - St. Louis), and Jake Allen (2019 - St. Louis).

Marc Bergevin went out in the off-season and at the deadline to improve this team and make them built to win in the playoffs, and so far, it's paid off well. In the off-season he added Tyler Toffoli (leads the team in goals and points), Josh Anderson, Jake Allen, Joel Edmundson, Corey Perry, and Michael Frolik. In the weeks and days leading up to the trade deadline he picked up Eric Staal, Jon Merrill, and Erik Gustafsson to shore up the team's depth.

If the Canadiens can continue to get contributions from top players like Toffoli, Petry, Suzuki, and others, along with instant impacts from the players returning from injury, especially Brendan Gallagher and Carey Price, they have a legitimate shot at winning this series. But they'll need their top players, their depth, and of course Carey Price to be at their absolute best.

Source: TSN
May 15   |   201 answers
Habs are ready to embrace role as the underdogs in series vs Toronto

Who will win the series?

Habs10150.2 %
Leafs10049.8 %
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