First blood has been drawn in the playoffs, with one team eliminated and another safely through to the second round. And that means it’s time to write the traditional piece lauding the performance of the victor, and to analyze whether, with one easy series win already under its belt, it now deserves to be considered a Cup favorite. So if I check my bracket, that means today we’ll be singing the praises of …
Really, hockey gods? You haven’t piled enough misery on this poor Leafs fan? Now you’re going to make me say nice things about the Montreal Canadiens? You guys are jerks.
Montreal’s 4-3 win over the Tampa Bay Lightning on Tuesday completed a four-game sweep of its first-round matchup, sending the Habs through to the Eastern Conference semifinal to await the winner of Boston-Detroit. While it would be a stretch to call the result an upset — the Lightning were the higher seed, but finished only a point ahead of Montreal — it was a surprise to see the series end so quickly. Tampa Bay had been one of the season’s better stories, making the leap from 28th overall in 2012-13 to eighth this year. And it’s not like the Canadiens went into the postseason looking like a powerhouse, with only four teams having longer odds to take home the Cup.