While the score after the final buzzer of game 5 was not the ending Montreal Canadiens fans dreamed of, one still has to be proud of the season the Canadiens endured and thrived in.
A team that was not expected by many to make a dent or splash in the regular season. A team that was picked by many to be “good but not great”. A team that was picked to lose heavily to Toronto, then again to Winnipeg and again to Vegas. A team that practically no one picked to make the Stanley Cup Final and yet here they were.
Marc Bergevin who easily could have taken home the GM of the year award pulled off a masterful season with the moves he made to strengthen the roster. From acquiring Jake Allen to give Carey Price needed rest that he was not afforded much in his career, taking a gamble on Josh Andersen, to adding the playoff warriors of Tyler Toffoli, Corey Perry, Joel Edmundson and Eric Staal, Bergevin gave Canadiens fans a roster that could do something special and they did. Making the change at the coaching position after a great start to the season and a roadblock hitting the club resulting in the firing of Claude Julien at the time appeared to be a knee jerk reaction but in the end it was what was needed to right the ship. Dominique Ducharme’s move into the roll while not paying dividends out of the gate has shown to be a terrific change of course towards success.
The drama of a tremendous start to the season, a roadblock that threatened it, coaching changes and stumbling to find their way all in the end to be able to fight for the Stanley Cup makes this season one for the ages.
While the ultimate goal is to hoist Lord Stanley’s Cup, the road to get there is an arduous and difficult one to navigate. Fortunately for the Canadiens, they have laid the groundwork and built a foundation that blends key young players, veterans and leaders together that with a few tweaks should find the team a threat in their division for years to come.
While many could say in the end it didn’t really matter, there truly was no team beating the Tampa Bay Lightning. The Lightning switched to a different gear for the Final and played some of the best hockey we have ever seen. It would not have mattered if it was the Colorado Avalanche or Vegas Golden Knights who got there. No one was beating Tampa the way they were executing on all cylinders.
While the post game pressers were brutal to bear, the character and leadership of this team shined through the heartbreak and disappointment:
In the end, the disappointment will loom heavy on the Canadiens and their fans for a while. Losing in the Stanley Cup Final is a tough pill to swallow. While one can be proud of what the team accomplished the expectations will only certainly grow from here. What Bergevin does in the offseason with his expiring contracts and tweaks that he will look to make should bring the excitement for the regular season to return quickly.
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