With the Qualifying Round taking place to determine who will advance to the Stanley Cup Playoffs, and who gets a shot at the first overall pick in the NHL Draft, we take a look at the upcoming best of five game series between the Montreal Canadiens and the Pittsburgh Penguins.
The Penguins look to take down the Canadiens in grand fashion as they will be locked, stocked, and ready to rock with captain Sidney Crosby ready to lead the charge. With the team returning at full strength thanks to the extended time off due to the pandemic, it will take the Canadiens a miracle to stop the Penguins fire power from overwhelming them. Also the return of forward Jake Guentzel, who wasn’t supposed to be back until the start of the 2020-21 season, will add a much needed punch to the offense along with trade pickups Jason Zucker, Conor Sheary, and Patrick Marleau.
For Montreal the biggest weapon they will pose against the Penguins will be a well rested Carey Price between the pipes and if he gets on his game right away could make the Canadiens being a twelve seed in the playoffs a reality. The Canadiens will also have the luxury of having Jonathan Drouin, Victor Mete, and Tomas Tatar back in the lineup too, as they were out of the lineup due to injuries at the time of the pause.
The Difference Maker
Goaltending is going to be the key in this one. Despite Pittsburgh overwhelming advantage in both offense and defense, their goaltending is still suspect. Who do they go with? Two-time Stanley Cup Champion Matt Murray (20-11-5, 2.87 GAA, .899 S%) or Tristan Jarry (20-12-1, 2.43 GAA, .921 S%)? We know what Carey Price is capable of, but what about in Pittsburgh, because that’s where the chink in their armor is.
Jake Guentzel — Sidney Crosby — Conor Sheary
Jason Zucker — Evgeni Malkin — Bryan Rust
Patrick Marleau — Jared McCann — Patric Hornqvist
Zach Aston-Reese — Teddy Blueger — Brandon Tanev
Kris Letang — Brian Dumoulin
John Marino — Marcus Pettersson
Justin Schultz — Jack Johnson
Tomas Tatar — Max Domi — Brendan Gallagher
Jonathan Drouin — Phillip Danault — Joel Armia
Paul Byron — Nick Suzuki — Jordan Weal
Artturi Lehkonen — Jake Evans — Dale Weise
Ben Chiarot — Shea Weber
Brett Kulak — Jeff Petry
Victor Mete — Christian Folin