What defines a Cinderella team when it comes to the NHL playoffs?
I would have to say that the team finished the regular season in either 6th, 7th or 8th place and managed to come on top with multiple upset victories in the playoffs, pushing the franchise to the Stanley Cup Finals. In recent years, fans have seen the Anaheim Mighty Ducks, Calgary Flames and Edmonton Oilers wear this title with pride. The Philadelphia Flyers came pretty close one year too, but lost in the Conference Finals in 2008.
Now it appears the Montreal Canadiens are more than determined to be the Cinderella team of 2010.
So far the Habs have taken out Alexander Ovechkin and the Washington Capitals after being down in the series 3-1. The Caps offense initially appeared to be too much for a team that only made the playoffs in the final two weeks of the regular season to handle. But their shot-blocking ability and stellar goaltending from Jaroslav Halak has propelled them into another game 7 match-up; this time with Sidney Crosby and the Pittsburgh Penguins.
If the Canadiens find a way to win tonight in Pittsburgh and advance to the Conference Finals to play either the Flyers or the Bruins, the Habs will be the Eastern Conference champs and competing for this year's Stanley Cup. Think about it: if an NHL underdog manages to take out the league's top-two super-stars before the Conference Finals when many expected them to get swept in the first round of the playoffs, you HAVE to be destined for a Stanley Cup battle.
In the West, the Sharks and Blackhawks are going to enter a frozen mine field of offensive fire power. Which ever team has to face either one of these two juggernauts in the Cup is going to have their hands full, regardless of who walks away from the Conference Finals in the East.
But if it's the Habs, a team that would have already taken out Ovechkin and Crosby, could they be the first Cindarella team to win the Stanley Cup in a time frame that I can't even think of?
...but Habs fans beware. Most Cinderella teams have a history of missing the playoffs the following year.
Either way, tonight's game is certainly going to be entertaining, and as many have already stated, the most important game in franchise history in over a decade.
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