For the first time, two teams from the same division will be playing for the Stanley Cup as the Atlantic’s Tampa Bay Lightning play host to the Montreal Canadiens for Game 1 of the Finals on Monday night.
Of course, the Lightning and Canadiens did not share a division this season. The Lightning played in the Central and the Canadiens were in the North. The two return to the Atlantic — alongside the Florida Panthers — next season.
The Canadiens are certainly underdogs in this series as the Lightning try to keep Lord Stanley’s silver chalice in the Sunshine State another year.
But Montreal is used to it.
Not only weren’t the Canadiens expected to beat Vegas in the semis, but they were decided underdogs in the first two rounds against Toronto and Winnipeg.
Yet here the Habs are.
Montreal is trying to become Canada’s first Cup champion since the Canadiens beat Wayne Gretzky’s Los Angeles Kings in 1993 — the summer before the Panthers started play as an expansion team.
Yeah, it has been a while.
FLORIDA PANTHERS LINKS
On Sunday, I broke down what the Bill Zito may be looking at when it comes to the Seattle Expansion Draft.
Zito knows the Panthers are going to lose a good player, but could they lose more than that? Perhaps. (Florida Hockey Now)
AROUND THE NHL
Speaking of the Vegas Golden Knights, could they get themselves into the Jack Eichel sweepstakes? (VHN)
— the Flyers could turn their attention back to getting Arizona d-man Oliver Ekman-Larsson. (PHN)
— The Lightning have a lot of ties to the Canadiens. (SN)
— What is next for the Islanders after losing Game 7 to the Bolts? (NYIHN)
— The Canadiens are going to rely on Carey Price if they want to win the Cup. Shocker. (SN)
— Price vs. Vasilevskiy is the goalie matchup these Finals deserve. (TB Times)
— The Capitals top prospect Connor McMichael is on his way. (WHN)
— The Bruins have a lot of decisions to make this offseason. (BHN)
The Marlins need to pick things up as they are in last place with the MLB trade deadline less than a month away. (Miami Herald)
— The Hurricanes had their Paradise Camp this weekend. Here’s how things went. (MH)
— Inter Miami/Fort Lauderdale has lost four straight but their coach doesn’t seem too worried. (MH)
— Barry breaks down all of the Dolphins’ roster battles going into training camp. (MH)