The Stanley Cup Final is a huge letdown after the rip-roaring semifinals, which isn’t really a surprise, because when the Lightning beat the Islanders to set up their title defense against the Canadiens, it was something of a fait accompli.
Islanders-Habs would have been a much more competitive matchup, which is no disrespect to a New York team that pushed Tampa Bay to the brink. It’s just that when the Bolts get rolling, they’re the best team in hockey — and you could see as they routed the Isles in Game 5 and dominated a 1-0 Game 7 to claim the Prince of Wales trophy that it was coming together.
Montreal had a magical run, beating Toronto, Winnipeg, and Vegas, but it’s just a matter of time now.
It would be nice if the Lightning made it a gentleman’s sweep, not only to win the Cup in front of their own fans, but to let Montreal experience a win in the Final for the first time since 1993.
To that end, Canadiens coach Dominique Ducharme returned to coaching for the first time since testing positive for COVID-19 before Game 3 of the Vegas series, and was disappointed not to see more fans in the building, due to Quebec regulations.
“It could’ve been a way to reward people who’ve been double-vaccinated or an incentive to increase the number of people to get vaccinated,” Ducharme said. “It could’ve been a way to reward our fans and people who’ve been isolated for 14 or 15 months. Unfortunately, we’ll have 3,500 fans inside the building and probably 25,000 fans outside the building who’ll be glued to one another. It’s tough to understand the logic.”
Ducharme is absolutely right, but one of the hallmarks of the pandemic in both Canada and the United States has been decision-making and rule-implementing that defies explanation. It’s a little strange to have reached a point where the illogic lies in not letting more people inside, but that’s the power of the vaccine, and exactly why more people need to get it.