The dream of a Quebec-themed NHL semi-finals is over.
With last night's disappointing loss by the Colorado Avalanche, meaning their elimination from the playoffs, that leaves the legendary Montreal Canadiens as Quebec's only franchise still alive in the quest for the Stanley Cup.
Had Colorado been able to advance past the Vegas Golden Knights (the Av's blew a 2-0 lead in the best-of-seven series), that would have set up a terrific face off between one team with its foundation in Quebec and the Habs, undisputedly now the region's dominant sports franchise. Recall that the Avalanche began play way back in 1972 as part of the original group of teams that made up the World Hockey Association (WHA). They were then known as the Quebec Nordiques. The team relocated from Quebec City to Denver (Colorado) in 1994.
Colorado was a favourite to win the Stanley Cup this season, a prospect that would have been their third championship. They won in 1995 and 2001. In fact, the Avalanche are the only NHL franchise ever to have a perfect record in Stanley Cup finals – they're 2 for 2. However, the Av's won't get a chance to make it three cups after fading badly in Round Two versus the Golden Knights. Colorado dropped four straight games. Their 2021 is over.
That now leaves the Canadiens as the pride and joy of Quebec.
Good thing for Montreal is, there's little or no pressure on this team. The Habs have already surpassed everyone's expectations winning not just one playoff series, but two – both as sizable underdogs. Never mind that Montreal’s 24-21-11 record was the worst among the 16 postseason qualifiers. The Canadiens are on a seven-game winning streak, their longest of the season. It's the perfect time of year to "get hot."
However, oddsmakers and most gamblers still aren't believers in Montreal. Just like before against Toronto and then Winnipeg, most of the money is on the other side of Montreal advancing. They can't possibly upset another opponent, can they? Consequently, the Habs are a very attractive +340 to advance in the semi-finals. They're +1200 now to win the Stanley Cup.
All of Quebec is rooting for the Habs, and even at least one resident of Las Vegas (yours truly) is wagering on the Canadiens to continue their dream season.