Difficult mission for the Canadiens

Greg Smith May 2, 2014 0
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It’s been 21 years since the last time the Stanley Cup was won by a Canadian team and this season the responsibility to end that streak is in the hands of the Montreal Canadiens.

According to the online website SportsBettingDime.com, the Boston Bruins are leading the odds to win the title, followed by defending champions Chicago Blackhawks. The Canadiens are fifth on the list.

Montreal was the last Canadian team to win the Stanley Cup in the 1993 season, defeating Los Angeles Kings, who had the legendary Wayne Gretzky.

Since that year, only four teams of the maple leaf country were able to return to fight for the Stanley Cup. The most recent was in 2001, when the Vancouver Canucks fell 4-3 against the Bruins. Calgary (2004), Edmonton (2006) and Ottawa (2007) are the other teams that have been close to the championship.

The team led by Michel Therrien was the only Canadian who advanced to the playoffs this season and had a very good start sweeping the series against the Tampa Bay Lightning, scoring 16 goals and allowing 10. But their next opponent will be the Boston Bruins, who eliminated the Detroit Red Wings and are the defending Eastern Conference champions.

In the regular season these teams met four times and the Canadiens won three, including two on the road at the TD Garden. The biggest challenge they face is beating goalie Tuukka Rask, who led the league with seven shutouts. Montreal’s offense finished as number 21 of the league, averaging 2.5 goals per game.

Max Pacioretty was the leader of the Canadiens this season to rank among the top 50 with 60 points, thanks to 39 goals and 21 assists.

Montreal is the team with the most Stanley Cup titles (34) in history, but they must beat Boston to start dreaming about one more. The Bruins are favorites to become the first to win in consecutive years the Eastern Conference title since the 2008 and 2009 seasons.