Monday is a special day for Joel Edmundson. If alliteration is not quite your thing, or if you may not be fully up to date on the current Stanley Cup Playoff picture, Game 1 of the final series gets underway from Tampa Bay, FL. tonight.
Featuring the ever-dominant Lightning at home to the underdog Montreal Canadiens, the second set of games between a Canadian and American opponent should draw significant attention across North America.
Yes, it is the final round of the postseason, but it is also the first time since 2011 that a Canadian team made it to the Stanley Cup, while being the first time that Montreal is featured in the final round since 1993.
It wouldn’t be the Stanley Cup without A.) quality goaltending: Montreal’s Carey Price (widely acclaimed as the greatest current netminder in the game) vs. Tampa Bay’s Andrei Vasilevskiy (the statistical best over the past five seasons of play), and B.) adversity: Montreal head coach Dominique Ducharme tested positive for COVID and has been forced to miss significant time behind the bench, while Joel Armia was placed in COVID protocol on Sunday, only to be removed on Monday and travel to Tampa Bay via a private jet in hopes of a Game 1 appearance
For the lone Manitoban in the series, Brandon’s Joel Edmundson will also be celebrating his 28th birthday when he hits the ice for his second Stanley Cup Final series in three years. Edmundson won the Cup with the St. Louis Blues in 2019, prior to his time with both the Carolina Hurricanes and the Canadiens.
With Tampa Bay eliminating Winnipeg’s Travis Zajac, Grandview’s Ryan Pulock and Dauphin’s Barry Trotz in the third round, and Montreal sending Manitobans Keegan Kolesar, Mark Stone, Ryan Reaves, Cody Glass (Winnipeg) and Zach Whitecloud (Dakota Valley Sioux Nation) packing, there will unfortunately only be a Manitoban Stanley Cup parade should the Habs prove victorious.
Although facing adversity in each of the first three rounds, Montreal will battle likely its most difficult opponent yet in the Lightning. Having been written off since the start, the Canadiens beat the North Division champion Toronto Maple Leafs in seven games, before sweeping the Winnipeg Jets in four-straight second round matchups. They then took it to the favourite Vegas Golden Knights in just six games in order to advance to the Cup, on the provincial holiday of Saint John the Baptist, nonetheless.
Action from Amalie Arena in Tampa Bay is set to begin at 7:00 PM central on Monday evening. The series will feature games on Monday, Wednesday and Friday two weeks in a row, before the scheduling of a potential Game 7 on Sunday, July 11.