This is the series that real hockey fans want and need. Old French Canadian hockey versus the flashy new toy in the league; and boy, it definitely is flashy.
During the post-game press conference, it was refreshing not to understand a single word by the media half of the time. The French-Canadian language brings the old traditional feel of Canadian hockey back deep into the playoffs.
Unfortunately, it will be a demanding experience for the Montreal Canadians facing the behemoth of talent known as the Vegas Golden Knights.
But is anything easy in Las Vegas for anyone except for getting there?
Winning at Roulette is not as hard as the pressure Vegas put on Montreal in game one of the Western Conference Finals.
And the Golden Knights seem to be better at five on five than skating a man up in a power play.
Nevertheless, it wasn’t penalties that killed the Montreal Canadians. There was relentless pressure on the puck and three defenseman goals that ended a seven-game playoff win streak for the Habs. And the one thing that many of the hockey pundits were afraid of for the Habs came true – relentless pressure.
Pressure on the puck, pressure from the Golden Knights, and pressure from the 18,000 Vegas faithful.
Yeah, it was a 4-1 Vegas win, but this victory was not easy, and it was different from the last eight playoff wins between Minnesota and Colorado. The Wild and Avalanche prepared the Golden Knights for game one.
The odds show the Golden Knights are the favorite to win the Stanley Cup, but the stress they are putting on the sportsbooks and that trophy they want to hoist up in the will be getting more complex.
It’s not supposed to be easy when it comes to the final four of professional hockey. After all, the Vegas Golden Knights are trying to buck the tradition of keeping a Canadian NHL team from winning the Stanley Cup Championship for the 25th straight year.
It was apparent the pressure put on the Canadian skaters, especially from the defensive side, was something Montreal had not seen this year.
The speed for Montreal did give Vegas some concern early, and it was different from the last two playoff series for the Golden Knights, but head coach Pete DeBoer did what he did best, let his lines do what they do. The physicality on Montreal was evident, and obviously, the pestering on the puck was the problem.
Defenseman became the offensive sledgehammer for Vegas as Shea Theodore, Nick Holden, and Alec Martinez all scored. However, the real reason the Habs dropped game one was for one reason, goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury.
Canadians did have their chances. But once again, Fleury proved he is the best goalie in the league.
The movement of the puck down in the Vegas zone put pressure on Fleury, but his 28 saves were the key to winning game one.
Montreal is a different animal in this deep playoff run for the Golden Knights. But overall, home-ice advantage and seeing 18,000 fans screaming down their gullet four or more times will be too much, in the end, to get a Canadian team back to winning the Cup.