Bachman-Turner Overdrive, whether you know them or not, released a very catchy song in 1973 called “Taking Care of Business.” Nearly 40 years later, the Montreal Canadiens Took Care of Business by beating the so-called juggernaut Toronto Maple Leafs, and by sweeping the Winnipeg Jets, who came off of a sweep of the Edmonton Oilers. The Canadiens did that in an eight-day span and are now awaiting the winner of the Vegas/Colorado series in order to see who they face in the semifinals. Will the trend continue?
Oddly enough, the Canadiens entered both the 2020 and 2021 playoffs with the same vibe. Last place postseason team, shouldn’t even be there if it wasn’t for COVID-19, and frankly, an already eliminated team before they even stepped on the ice. After beating the Maple Leafs in seven games, coming back from being down 3-1, the Habs were once again being told they had very little chance. The script was already written and sent out and the series was over before it even started.
Fast forward to Monday June 7th, Canadiens fans were celebrating in downtown Montreal after a 4-0 series win in overtime, series winner signed: Tyler Toffoli.
It was a one-sided series. Montreal really pushed the Winnipeg Jets around and it showed that the 20 players Dominique Ducharme dressed every game were on the same page and ready to go.
The biggest takeaways from this series are:
All 12 Forwards know their roles and are executing
All four lines are contributing, even if they’re not doing it every night. Usually, three get it done, and the current trio of Toffoli-Suzuki-Caufield are the way offensively, while Danault’s line of Lehkonen-Danault-Gallagher are shutting down the opposition in all three zones. The plan worked for the first two rounds, time to see if it will continue.
The top-four on defence are playing at a high level
Carey Price finally has a top-four that can clear up the front of the net, end the cycle and kill rushes at the blue line. The unsung hero is clearly Joel Edmundson right now. Another sub takeaway is the usage of these four defenders in terms of ice time. The top-four get to play together, then rotate with a defender from the third pair. This guarantees that they always have one of their top pillars on the ice and it keeps everybody fresh.
Carey Price is dialed in, and that’s not good news
“Playoff Price” was laughed at by opposing fans and everyone kept their expectations of him from his regular season play. Two rounds later, Carey Price leads the league in wins with 8, save percentage at .935 and third in goals against average at 1.97. These aren’t average regular season stats. These are the stats of a goalie playing at the top of his game and it’s not a good sign for teams who thought the postseason was going to be easy. Just ask the Winnipeg Jets.
The Canadiens played the Jets with their style of hockey and didn’t have to adjust. They play physical, they control the puck and they attack when they see fit. That got them to score first in every game this series and then built further off of that. The Habs swept Winnipeg because they put the pedal to the metal and the Jets never found an answer to stop them.
In the end, the stronger team moved on to represent Canada in the final four – The Montreal Canadiens are the kings of the North.