S.O.S. For the Canadiens

Canadiens have an uphill climb vs. the defending Cup Champs. Chelios joins ESPN. Top playoff forwards ranked. 2022 NHL events announced. Who grabbed NHL hardware?

There are no icebergs in Tampa Bay but if you had seen The Good Ship Canadien on Monday night you'd think it was auditioning for "The New Titanic." 

Like the Titanic of yester-century, HMS Canadien didn't immediately sink; the agony of insuperable defeat merely took a little longer. 

Okay, okay; it was only one game and the Canadian invaders will try again tonight at Amalie Arena. 

But, unless repairs immediately are made there figures to be and-over-and-out scenario en route to a sweep.

Interestingly enough, the man you'd least believe would have a simple explanation for the Lightning's dominance happens to be the Bolts' owner.

Normally, Jeff Vinik remains so far in the background, you'd think he was auditioning for The Invisible Man. Yet, somehow he chose to speak up and simply stated why his club will repeat as Champs.

"We've added grit," says the vern-enthused Jeff, "and we that has made us tougher than before."

This was evident in the Islanders series when the New Yorkers pushed back and pushed back hard.

But the Habs don't have the size of the Nassaumen and, as a result, they took a physical beating from the Champs, especially Brendan Gallagher.

At one point, the peripatetic Hab's head looked like it had collided with a ketchup machine.

"We know what we have to fix," chimes in Montreal's interim coach, Luke Richardson.

That's a start. But he can fix all he wants because his club's only salvation right now is for Carey Price to post a shutout.

Not likely. 

Nikita Kucherov -- whacked around quite a bit -- is playing like he had kryptonite for breakfast while Lightning third and fourth lines have taken on an All-Star look.

When all's said and done. there's no team in the league that can match Tampa's speed, breakouts from their own end and pinpoint passing. 

The defense -- led by the indomitable Victor Hedman -- ain't bad either.

My challenge to the Canadiens: Make me a miracle.

I dare you!


THE JIVE: Both TNT and ESPN are at war over talent-signings. The opening gun was fired by Turner with the inking of hockey's biggest name, Wayne Gretzky. (Not too bad.) Now the Boys From Bristol are counterattacking with a solid double-dip. Mark Messier and Chris Chelios form a double-dip that looms as both incisive and candid. 

I figure that Chelios will provide the bombast while Mess -- well -- he just won't mess around; just as he was on the pond. (Ergo: It's a big Bristol bombshell.)


THE JIVE: Connor McDavid took home the Hart Trophy and Ted Lindsay Award, winning the trophies for the second and third times, respectively. Adam Fox won the Norris Trophy, and joined Bobby Orr as the only players to win the award in their second season. In his 17th season, Marc-Andre Fleury was awarded the Vezina Trophy for the first time in his illustrious career. Kirill Kaprizov won the Calder Trophy as top rookie in what should be the beginning of a great career.

HEADLINE: The Score ranks the top forwards by performance headed into the Cup Final

THE JIVE: Josh Gold-Smith of thescore.com ranked the top five forwards through the first three rounds of the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Note: Stats do not include Game One of Lightning-Canadiens Cup Final

1. Brayden Point: 14 goals, 6 assists, in 18 games

2. Nikita Kucherov: 5 goals, 22 assists, in 18 games

3. Steven Stamkos: 7 goals, 10 assists, in 18 games

4. Tyler Toffoli: 5 goals, 9 assists, in 17 games

5. Nathan MacKinnon: 8 goals, 7 assists in ten games


THE JIVE: The 2022 NHL All-Star Game will be held at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas for the first time ever. The 2022 Winter Classic will be held at Target Field, home to MLB's Minnesota Twins, in Minneapolis, Minnesota, between the Minnesota Wild and St. Louis Blues. Additionally, the Nashville Predators will play the Tampa Bay Lightning at Nissan Stadium, home to NFL's Tennessee Titans, in a Stadium Series matchup. Lastly, there will be a Heritage Classic game sometime in March, that the NHL will announce at a later date.

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