Lafleur impressed with Canadiens playoff success
The Canadians moved past the second round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the first time since 2014 with a 3-2 overtime win over the Winnipeg Jets to complete a four-game sweep on Monday. In the first round, Montreal recovered from 3-1 in the series to eliminate rival Toronto Maple Leafs.
“The way they played at the start against the Toronto Maple Leafs, no,” Lafleur said Tuesday.
“When they were down 3-1 against Toronto, well, I didn’t expect them to make that kind of comeback. But I was really happy they did. they had character. They wanted to show everyone they could do it. “
Lafleur has won the Stanley Cup five times (1973, 1976-1979) and is one of Canada’s most recognizable and beloved alumni. The 69-year-old from Thurso, Que., Scored 518 goals for Montreal between 1971-85, then 42 more for the New York Rangers and Quebec Nordiques from 1988 to 1991, returning to the NHL after a four-year retirement and his induction into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1988.
The Canadiens’ leader in assists (728) and points (1,246), and second in goals behind Maurice “Rocket” Richard (who scored 544), Lafleur is loved by Montreal fans for his unwavering willingness to say what. he thinks, especially when he perceives a lack of effort from his former team. It drew a huge roar from the 2,500 fans in Game 3 against the Jets on Sunday when it was shown on the scoreboard. He was watching the game in a suite at the Bell Center, along with the team’s other ambassadors, Yvan Cournoyer, who won the Stanley Cup 10 times, and Réjean Houle, who won it five times.
“I’m very proud when they work hard and win,” said Lafleur. “Sometimes they lose games on their own. They don’t give 100 percent, they don’t play as a team. [peeved] when it happens. I understand you can’t win them all, but at least you have to do everything you can to do everything you can to win the game.
“It’s a lot nicer in this city when they win. Now everyone is happy, everyone is hoping for a chance to win the Stanley Cup this year.”
The Canadians will face the best-of-7 second round winner between the Vegas Golden Knights and the Colorado Avalanche, tied 2-2 with Game 5 at Ball Arena on Tuesday (9 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, SN, TVAS).
Lafleur says he’s been particularly impressed this Stanley Cup Playoff season with the goalie Carey Award and forward Tyler toffoli, whose overtime goal Monday knocked out the Jets, Nick suzuki and Cole caufield.
Price has missed the last 13 games of the regular season with a concussion. He won Game 1 against Toronto, then lost three straight and has been undefeated ever since. He’s 8-3 in 11 playoff games with a 1.97 goals-against average, .935 save percentage and one shutout.
“At the start of the playoffs, I think [Price] was a bit fragile, said Lafleur. He wasn’t nervous – he’s not that kind of goalie – but he wasn’t in good shape, not as sharp as he is now.
“He’s in his bubble. [upset] him, you have to get him out of there and nobody did, so it’s good for Canadians. I don’t understand why Toronto and Winnipeg didn’t realize that if they wanted to have a chance they had to disturb a hot goalie.
“That’s what we used to do with Billy Smith. Me and (1970s teammate) Steve Shutt, the first five minutes against the New York Islanders, we used to shoot Billy’s head for [upset] him and it worked. I don’t understand why it worked, but it did. Either you play to win or you watch the other team score goals. “
The Canadiens got big contributions from three of their youngest players: Suzuki, 21, Caufield, 20 and forward Jesperi Kotkaniemi, 20, have 16 points (eight goals, eight assists), with energy to burn.
Caufield was a good scratch in the first two games against the Maple Leafs, but he’s been a fixture ever since. He joined the Canadiens on March 29 after winning the Hobey Baker Award, awarded annually to the best men’s NCAA Division I ice hockey player, and putting Toffoli on the game-winning goal of Game 4 against the Jets.
“You can tell he’s having fun, he’s really having fun and he’s passionate about the game,” said Lafleur. “It’s all that matters.”
Lafleur, like most fans, watched intently as general manager Marc Bergevin and the Canadiens reshuffled the game this season. They signed Toffoli (October 12, 2020) and onwards Corey perry (Dec 28, 2020) as free agents, acquired defender Joel edmundson (Sep 12, 2020), onwards Josh Anderson (Oct 6, 2020) and center Eric Staal (March 26) in the trades and appointed Dominique Ducharme to replace Claude Julien as coach on February 24.
“I think Marc was going in the right direction,” said Lafleur. “It turns out everything went almost perfectly for everyone. It was a gamble, but he had no choice. You get to the point where you have to improve the team and do whatever it takes. is in your power to bring in the best players possible.
“Everyone knows that not everyone wants to play in Montreal because of the pressure and the taxes or whatever. If you lose, it’s a nightmare. But if you win, it’s the best city in the world. Right now it’s a pretty good place. The fans are very positive about the team with all the youngsters playing as well as them. We’re all excited to see what happens next against Vegas or Colorado. “