Montreal finished with eight more losses than wins within the regular season and was the last NHL team to earn a playoff berth. Now, the Canadiens, directed by a fill-in coach, Luke Richardson, who wont to play defense for the Flyers, are one win faraway from stunning Vegas and reaching the Stanley final for the primary time since 1993. The Habs took a lead of three games to 2 within the semifinals Tuesday night with a 4-1 win in Vegas. they will conclude the series Thursday in Montreal.
Richardson, 52, a Montreal assistant coach the last three seasons, is 2-1 since replacing interim head coach Dominique Ducharme after Ducharme tested positive for COVID-19 on Friday. Ducharme replaced the fired Claude Julien in late February when the Canadiens were 9-5-4. Montreal (24-21-11 within the regular season) has been the hungrier, faster team during a series that Vegas (40-14-2), which tied Colorado for the foremost points within the regular season, was expected to dominate. Vegas had 82 points within the regular season — 23 quite the Canadiens (59), who had only one more point than the sad-sack Flyers.
“Everybody’s feeling confident. Everybody knows their role, and we’re playing exceptionally well,” Richardson, whose team upset Toronto and Winnipeg within the first two rounds, told reporters in Vegas. “That’s getting to continue whether we’re within the lead, whether we’re behind, tied, in overtime, the start of the game. That’s what we would like, to stay that very same mindset.” Philadelphia Daily News After a 21-year career as a physical, stay-at-home defender, including five seasons with the Flyers from 1997 to 2002, Richardson spent three years as an Ottawa assistant. He later was the top coach of the AHL’s Binghamton Senators for four seasons before returning to the NHL as an Islanders assistant.
He has been a Montreal assistant since 2018-19. “I think coaching within the minors helps,” Richardson said. “I had four years thereof running a bench, and on behalf of me, that has really given me tons of help. … All those experiences, you boil them together, and it gives you insight on different parts of the sport, preparation for the sport .” The goaltending of Carey Price; the experience and powerful play of Shea Weber, Tyler Toffoli, Eric Staal, Corey Perry, and Joel Armia; and therefore the pestering play of Brendan Gallagher are critical within the Canadiens’ run. Ditto a stellar penalty kill and therefore the blossoming of kids Cole Caufield — Montreal selected him 15th overall within the 2019 draft, one pick after the Flyers took defenseman Cam York — Jesperi Kotkaniemi and Nick Suzuki.
Caufield, 20, has three goals within the series against Vegas. He and his teammates don’t want to return to the Strip for a Game 7. If they don’t, it’ll be an emotional series win for the Canadiens, especially for Richardson, whose daughter, Daron, 14, committed suicide in 2010. After a 3-2 overtime convert to Vegas in Game 3, Richardson tapped the DIFD heart pin on his lapel. The initials represent the “Do It For Daron” youth psychological state program that Richardson and his wife, Stephanie, started in their daughter’s memory.