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The Stanley Cup ultimate begins tonight — and the Habs face their hardest take a look at but
With 4 extra wins, the Montreal Canadiens can grow to be the primary Canadian-based staff to win the Cup since Patrick Roy’s Habs did it in 1993. They’d even be one of the vital inconceivable champions in NHL historical past — Montreal was the lowest-seeded staff within the playoffs and an enormous underdog in two of its three collection. However, of their upsets of the Leafs and Golden Knights and surprisingly straightforward sweep of the Jets, the Canadiens have confirmed to be a significantly better staff than their regular-season report indicated. Make no mistake: they belong right here.
We coated the keys to Montreal’s magical run in Friday’s publication. You possibly can read it here, however I am going to provide the Coles Notes: goalie Carey Worth is taking part in out of his thoughts, the penalty killing has been spectacular, and the Canadiens are doing a terrific job shutting down their opponents’ finest gamers.
These elements mixed with nice staff spirit and some good bounces can get you a good distance within the NHL playoffs. And, for the Habs, they’ve. However they’re about to face their hardest opponent but.
The Tampa Bay Lightning are the defending Stanley Cup champions, they usually’re most likely the very best staff in hockey over the past three years — courting again to 2018-19, after they put collectively top-of-the-line common seasons in NHL historical past earlier than flaming out within the first spherical of the playoffs vs. Columbus. Since then, they’ve realized to maintain their powder dry for when it actually issues.
Prime to backside, the Lightning are a extra gifted staff than the Canadiens, they usually can match Montreal’s grit and goaltending. Just a few key particulars to know in regards to the Habs’ opponent:
Their forwards are scary. After “needing” (wink, wink) the whole common season to get well from hip surgical procedure, Nikita Kucherov is on his approach to main the playoffs in scoring for the second straight yr. With 27 factors in 20 video games, he leads second-place Brayden Level by a whopping seven factors. However Kucherov may be damage: he performed just one shift in Sport 6 of Tampa’s semifinal collection vs. the Islanders and did not appear to be himself in Sport 7. If he is not wholesome, the Lightning have a number of guys who can choose up the slack. Level is main the playoffs with 14 targets (nobody else has greater than eight), and the third- and fourth-leading playoff scorers are additionally Lightning: Alex Killorn and Steven Stamkos. Tampa Bay’s high three traces are all very harmful.
Victor Hedman is once more a beast on the blue line. The 2020 Conn Smythe Trophy winner as playoff MVP had a so-so common season by his lofty requirements, however he is turned it up within the playoffs. Hedman ranks sixth within the playoff scoring race (he is the one defenceman within the high 18) and he averages near 25 minutes of ice time, so there’s hardly any escaping him. Montreal has its personal workhorse in Shea Weber, who’s additionally top-of-the-line blue-line anchors in hockey and a nightmare for opposing forwards to cope with.
Andrei Vasilevskiy can go toe-to-toe with Carey Worth. They have been the 2 finest goalies on this yr’s post-season, rating 1-2 (in that order) in each goals-against common and save share amongst netminders who made it previous the primary spherical. To date, Worth is the story of the playoffs for main the Habs on their gorgeous run to the Cup ultimate. However Vasilevskiy, who’s a finalist for his second Vezina Trophy (which might give him another than Worth) is simply nearly as good a participant.
Just a few last-minute notes on the Habs: Ahead Joel Armia is formally a game-time determination tonight. He wasn’t in a position to journey along with his teammates to Tampa Bay yesterday after being positioned within the NHL’s COVID-19 protocol. However he is now cleared from the protocol, and he made the journey as we speak on a non-public airplane. Armia has 5 targets within the playoffs, together with a league-leading two short-handed. Canadiens head coach Dominique Ducharme continues to be serving the required 14 days of quarantine after testing constructive for COVID-19 on June 18. He expects to return for Sport 3 on Friday night time in Montreal. The Habs are 3-1 with assistant Luke Richardson filling in. Learn extra in regards to the Canadiens in this Cup final preview by CBC Sports contributor Vicki Hall.
Canada introduced its roster for this week’s last-chance Olympic males’s basketball qualifier in Victoria. Solely the winner of the six-team match will get to go to Tokyo. If the amount of top-level gamers on every roster is any indication, that ought to be Canada. Eight of its 12 gamers are within the NBA: Nickeil Alexander-Walker (New Orleans), RJ Barrett (New York), Lu Dort (Oklahoma Metropolis), Cory Joseph (Detroit), Trey Lyles (San Antonio), Dwight Powell (Dallas), and Mychal Mulder and Andrew Wiggins (Golden State). The opposite 4 are former No. 1-overall NBA draft choose Anthony Bennett, Trae Bell-Haynes, Aaron Doornekamp and Andrew Nicholson. Canada opens Tuesday night time towards a Greece staff that will not have two-time NBA MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo, who’s taking part in within the Jap Convention ultimate for Milwaukee. Canada’s different group-stage opponent is China, which it faces on Wednesday night time. The opposite group has the Czech Republic, Turkey and Uruguay. We’ll have a full primer on the match in tomorrow’s publication. For now, learn extra in regards to the Canadian roster here and know you could watch the opener vs. Greece stay Tuesday at 7 p.m. ET on the CBC TV community.
Wimbledon is underway. You may by no means consider this, however rain brought on the postponement of a number of matches on opening day — Tenth-seeded Canadian Denis Shapovalov’s amongst them. Unseeded Canadian Vasek Pospisil was in a position to play, and he gained in straight units. No. 16 Felix Auger-Aliassime performs his first-round match tomorrow. Each Canadians within the ladies’s singles draw are scheduled to start Tuesday too. No. 5 Bianca Andreescu and unseeded Leylah Annie Fernandez are each searching for their first-ever main-draw victories at Wimbledon. American star Serena Williams, who’s attempting to win her eighth Wimbledon title and match Margaret Court docket’s all-time report of 24 Grand Slam singles titles, additionally opens tomorrow. The large shocker as we speak was males’s No. 3 seed and up to date French Open finalist Stefanos Tsitsipas dropping in straight units to 57th-ranked American Frances Tiafoe. Read more about that and the rest of today’s notable results here.
And in case you missed it…
Just a few extra issues from the weekend that you need to learn about:
Just a few athletes delivered on the Canadian observe and area trials. This model of the meet did not have fairly the identical juice because it usually does. Because of the pandemic, Athletics Canada did not require athletes to compete in Montreal with the intention to be named to the Olympic or Paralympic groups. So some large names, together with Andre De Grasse, did not make the journey. For others, although, the trials have been a possibility to punch their tickets to Tokyo by assembly the qualifying normal of their occasion and/or bettering their world rating. Reigning Olympic males’s excessive bounce champion Derek Drouin was certainly one of them till asserting Friday he was giving up on qualifying for the Olympics as a result of his physique nonetheless is not proper after a number of injury-plagued years. However Lindsey Butterworth (ladies’s 800 metres), John Homosexual (males’s 3,000m steeplechase) and Django Lovett (males’s excessive bounce) all gained their occasions in Montreal and met the Olympic requirements over the weekend. Just a few extra nonetheless have an opportunity to satisfy their marks at a separate meet in Montreal tomorrow. Different fascinating outcomes from the trials: Aaron Brown, who had already certified for the Olympics, gained his fourth Canadian males’s 100m title and fourth 200m title. Crystal Emmanuel (additionally pre-qualified for Tokyo) gained her eighth Canadian ladies’s 100m title and sixth 200m title. Olympic decathlon gold-medal contender Damian Warner gained the boys’s lengthy bounce and 110m hurdles as he used the trials to sharpen his performances in these occasions. Canada’s ultimate observe and area roster for Tokyo is anticipated to be introduced quickly.
The Olympic males’s baseball area is ready. The Dominican Republic gained the ultimate spot within the six-team match by beating Venezuela 8-5 within the ultimate of the last-chance qualifier in Mexico. Former Toronto Blue Jays star Jose Bautista was left off the Dominican roster for this occasion after struggling on the Americas qualifier earlier this month in Florida, the place Canada was eradicated from Olympic competition. However two different ex-Jays performed key roles within the Dominican win: Melky Cabrera hit a two-run homer, and leadoff man Emilio Bonifacio drove in a run. The Dominican is ranked seventh on this planet. In Tokyo, they’re going to be grouped with No. 1 Japan and No. 5 Mexico. The opposite group is No. 3 South Korea (which gained gold the final time baseball appeared within the Olympics, in 2008), No. 4 United States and No. 24 Israel.
Ladies’s golf has a brand new No. 1. Twenty-two-year-old American Nelly Korda jumped South Korea’s Jin Younger Ko after profitable the Ladies’s PGA Championship by three photographs to assert her first main title. The world rankings as of as we speak shall be used to find out the 60-golfer area for the Tokyo Olympics. A rustic is allowed as much as 4 gamers in the event that they’re all ranked within the high 15, so it seems to be like Korda and her sister Jessica (ranked thirteenth, and fourth amongst People) will each get to go. Outdoors of the highest 15, there is a restrict of two gamers per nation. Brooke Henderson (seventh) and Alena Sharp (136th) ought to be Canada’s representatives, assuming they need to play. Henderson tied for twenty first on the Ladies’s PGA, and Sharp tied for twenty fifth. Read more about the tournament here.
There shall be a brand new European males’s soccer champion. Cristiano Ronaldo and reigning Euro champs Portugal have been eradicated by Belgium within the spherical of 16 on Sunday. The 1-0 win earned the Belgians a quarter-final matchup with Italy, which bought previous Austria 2-1 in further time on Saturday. Denmark will face the Czech Republic after the Danes crushed Wales 4-0 and the Czechs shocked the Netherlands 2-0. Spain superior as we speak with a wild 5-3 extra-time win over Croatia. They’re going to face the winner between Switzerland and reigning World Cup champion France, which was in progress at our publish time. Tomorrow’s matches are Germany vs. England (at Wembley Stadium) and Sweden vs. Ukraine.
You are on top of things. Discuss to you tomorrow.