The Montreal Canadiens Calling it a Season After Game 6 Elimination

TORONTO, ONTARIO - AUGUST 21: Carter Hart #79 of the Philadelphia Flyers shakes hands with Carey Price #31 of the Montreal Canadiens after the Flyers 3-2 win in Game Six of the Eastern Conference First Round during the 2020 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at Scotiabank Arena on August 21, 2020 in Toronto, Ontario. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
TORONTO, ONTARIO - AUGUST 21: Carter Hart #79 of the Philadelphia Flyers shakes hands with Carey Price #31 of the Montreal Canadiens after the Flyers 3-2 win in Game Six of the Eastern Conference First Round during the 2020 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at Scotiabank Arena on August 21, 2020 in Toronto, Ontario. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images) /
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Montreal Canadiens, Philadelphia Flyers
TORONTO, ONTARIO – AUGUST 21: Jesperi Kotkaniemi Montreal Canadiens (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images) /

A Series of Surprises

The Montreal Canadiens showed in their series against the Philadelphia Flyers that there are several pieces on their roster that are not far off in terms of contending on a yearly basis. As per the usual Carey Price was nearly flawless against the Pittsburgh Penguins and did not let in more than three goals in a single game to the Philadelphia Flyers. Shea Weber also led the Canadiens defence and showed that his age has yet to affect his play/

The biggest surprises of the Montreal Canadiens’ time in the NHL’s bubble in Toronto came from 20-year old centres Nick Suzuki and Jesperi Kotkaniemi. From the month of February up until the NHL’s shut down, Nick Suzuki had become one of the team’s most reliable forwards. It was already expected that Suzuki would play a big role in the Canadiens post-season, but none expected him to elevate his game to this level.

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In 10 games played, Nick Suzuki had 7 points (4 goals, 3 assists) and was one of the Canadiens’ most utilized players, recording 21:13 of ice time in Game 6. However, those who have been following the young forward in his juniors may not be as surprised as Suzuki was known to up his game in the playoffs with the Owen Sound Attack in the OHL.

In comparison to Suzuki, the 2019-20 regular season was a different story altogether for Jesperi Kotkaniemi. After a strong, 34-point rookie season, Kotkaniemi struggled mightily to elevate his game to the next level, dealt with injuries and would eventually be sent down to the Laval Rocket in the AHL.

It was here that the Kotkaniemi’s season would take a positive turn as under Joel Bouchard, Kotkaniemi would become Laval’s first-line centre and would go own to record 13 points (1 goal, 12 assists) in 13 games played. When the NHL returned, it was evident in their very first game back that Kotkaniemi had trained in his off-time and would play with newfound confidence.

In his 10 post-season games, Jesperi Kotkaniemi notched four goals, would control the pacing of the game whilst on the ice in many of his shifts and elevated his physical game, although he may have taken it too far in game 5. Both Nick Suzuki and Jesperi Kotkaniemi have the chance to be important pieces down the middle for years to come for the Canadiens if these playoffs are to be taken into consideration.