Its time for the semifinals of the Stanley Cup Playoffs! In this round the Vegas Golden Knights will face off against the Montreal Canadiens. With that being said, here is a Knights vs. Canadiens semifinal playoff preview.
Montreal Canadiens Semifinal Playoff Preview
The Canadiens barely squeaked into the North Division playoffs, taking the 4th and final spot. In round 1 they faced off against the Toronto Maple Leafs. They won game 1, but then lost 3 in a row. On the verge of elimination they forced a game 7 and came back from a 1-3 series to move onto round 2. In round 2 they faced off against the Winnipeg Jets. The Jets were just coming off sweeping round 1 against the Edmonton Oilers. Well the tables turned and the Montreal Canadiens swept the Jets in round 2.
This team is getting hot in the postseason! Carey Price has posted a 1.97 goals against average and has the highest save percentage of .935%. Tyler Toffoli and Joel Armia both are playing well for this team. They have both put up 4 goals during the playoffs. Toffoli has 10 points and Armia has 7 points in the playoffs. A strength of the Canadiens is that they are 1st in penalty kill percentage at 90.3%. Some may say this team is underdogs but it is not how you start a season it is how you finish it.
Vegas Golden Knights Playoff Preview
The Golden Knights are the top team points wise from the regular season left. In round 1 they faced off against the Minnesota Wild. Opposite of the Canadiens in round 1 they lost game 1 to the Wild. They turned it around and gained a 3-1 series lead by winning the next 3. But the Wild were able to force a game 7 as well, in which the Golden Knights were victorious. Round 2 they also faced an opponent coming off a round 1 sweep. The Colorado Avalanche swept the St. Louis Blues in round 1. The first two games of round 2 went to the Avalanche, but after this the Golden Knights won four games straight to eliminate the President Trophy winners.
The Golden Knights continue to have success with postseason making the semifinals 3 of their first 4 years. Marc Andre Fleury has posted a 1.91 goals against average and a save percentage of .923%. Johnathan Marchessault performed his first career playoff hat trick against the Avalanche Game 4. He has 8 points in the playoffs. William Karlsson has racked up 7 assists for the team throughout the playoffs. He is the team leader with 11 points in the playoffs. A strength of the Golden Knights is that they are 1st in faceoff percentage at 54.9%. This team was the best in the west and have played like it, they will need to continue their momentum.
There are multiple players with history of being with the opposite team to look forward to in this series:
Max Pacioretty made his NHL debut with the Montreal Canadiens on January 2, 2009. In his last 3 seasons with the Canadiens he served as their captain. He was traded on September 10, 2018 to the Golden Knights in exchange for Tomas Tatar, Nick Suzuki and a 2019 second round draft pick. Pacioretty is a player to watch for this series as he has racked up 6 points in the last 5 games.
Nick Suzuki was drafted by the Golden Knights in the 2017 NHL draft. He was picked in round 1 at 13th pick. He however never played for the knights and made his NHL debut on October 3, 2019 with the Canadiens. This postseason he has 4 goals and 4 assists for them.
Jon Merrill was selected by the Golden Knights in their 2017 expansion draft from the New Jersey Devils. On January 16, 2018 he signed a two year contract extension. Merrill was one of the original members of the Golden Knights but left the club as a free agent. He went on to sign with Red Wings but on April 11, 2021 was traded to the Montreal Canadiens. Although not making a lot of noise this postseason points wise, expect him to play some solid defense against his old team.
This will be the furthest distance teams have traveled for a semifinal in NHL history. The distance between the two stadiums is 2,576 miles apart. This series will be a strong goalie matchup. Many will predict the Golden Knights to win this series. Some have even said this will be their easiest series played. However, I will say do not count the Montreal Canadiens out of this one. They are peaking at just the right time and have already knocked powerhouse teams out of the Stanley Cup Playoffs. With all that said my prediction is Knights in 6.
~Josie Averitt (@JosieAve on Twitter)
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