Time to enter the final frontier, as the Habs and Knights get set for Game 4
MONTREAL -- No one gave them much of a chance heading into this series, last series or the one before those two series, but the Montreal Canadiens are now sitting with a solid opportunity to put the Vegas Golden Knights in a black hole in the two team's semi-final series of the NHL playoffs.
No one, coincidentally, gave the Starship Enterprise NCC-1701-D much of a chance against the Borg in Star Trek: The Next Generation's "The Best of Both Worlds," but we know how that turned out.
Aside from the clincher, Game 4 is the key game in any best-of-seven series and it's on tonight between the plucky Habs and the four-line rolling, Borg-like efficient chevaliers d'or de Vegas.
Should the Habs continue their impressive playoff run and win tonight, they will wind up a game away from a first Stanley Cup finals since TNG was going into its final season.
SEE A SPOT AND STING
"If we sting them in a tender spot, they might stop for a minute to scratch," said Dr. Beverly Crusher while touring the Borg ship.
Dr. Crusher's quote is the perfect summary of Game 3, and the Habs should not think luck had anything to do with stealing a game in which they were outshot 45-27.
If Josh Anderson needs to score, score away.
If Paul "Lord" Byron needs to pot one, fine.
Chances are few, but they remain chances.
The only team that deserves to win is the team that wins.
Montreal Canadiens' Josh Anderson is surrounded by teammates after scoring the winning goal to defeat the Vegas Golden Knights in overtime of Game 3 of the NHL Stanley Cup semifinal Friday, June 18, 2021 in Montreal. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson
NIGHTMARES WORTH FORGETTING
"Trouble sleeping?" Guinan asks Captain Picard as the Enterprise awaits a battle with the Borg.
It remains to be seen if Marc-Andre Fleury is tossing and turning while images of Josh Anderson skate through his mind, but he shouldn't be the only one.
Fleury is taking most of the blame for obvious reasons based on that whoopsie-daisy moment at the end of the third period, but Mark Stone, Max Pacioretty, Jonathan Marchessault and William Karlsson all have big round marks in the "G" category of their stat sheets.
Signs point to Fleury being replaced by Robin Lehner, so the Knights won't have him to blame if he's replaced between the pipes they fail to even the series.
That Phil Danault line is proving as valuable as Dr. Crusher's Achille's heel theory on how to destroy the Borg.
RESISTANCE IS FUTILE?
"I will resist you with my last ounce of strength," Picard says to the Borg.
Here's the thing.
Every person skating with a team sweater on in an NHL game is a professional hockey player.
From Jon Merrill to Auston Matthews to Carey Price to Connor McDavid to Ryan Reaves, everyone is capable of playing better than almost everyone you know or have known unless you know a lot of pro hockey players.
The Habs were a 500-1 longshot to win it all when they entered the playoffs, and now those betting a dollar will win five bucks. They've always been a pretty good team capable of beating any team on a good day.
And the thing about young players is: no one really knows what they have in them.
Cole Caufield, Nick Suzuki and Jesperi Kotkaniemi all have stat sheets as long as a red-shirt ensign's story arc on an away mission, so it is unwise to assume a career's worth of impressive numbers will beat a 20-year-old two years away from a proper shave.
Just ask last year's Pittsburgh Penguins.
COMMANDER BECOMES THE CAPTAIN
When Captain Picard is captured by the Borg and transformed into Locutus, Commander Riker takes the big chair on the Enterprise.
Thus, it remains for Luke Richardson to carry on and fight in place of interim head coach Dominique Ducharme, who is in isolation for two weeks after testing positive for COVID-19.
Who saw that twist coming?
Ducharme can still encourage his team via Zoom (unlike Picard-turned-Locutus who only taunted), and the system remains in place.
The question is: Is the system working?
The Knights will come fast and hard, and Price can only stop so many shots just like the Enterprise's deflector shields can only take so many photon torpedos.
Montreal Canadiens goaltender Carey Price makes a save off Vegas Golden Knights' Alex Tuch during third period of Game 3 of the NHL Stanley Cup semifinal Friday, June 18, 2021 in Montreal. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson
GO BEHIND, REGROUP, TAKE REVENGE AND REPEAT
"We may yet prevail. That's a conceit, but it's a healthy one," said Picard.
Vegas has been here before.
The Knights went down 1-0 to the Minnesota Wild, and 2-0 to the Colorado Avalanche and trailed in Game 3 before coming back, swatting the former Nordiques away and ripping out four straight games.
A lot of people were picking the Avs to take the cup.
They've made the conference finals twice already in all of three years of existence and the finals once.
Vegas finished tied for the most points in the regular season, and dominated the Habs in Game 1.
Even though, SPOILER ALERT, the Borg ship was destroyed at the end of The Best of Both Worlds, they returned more than once in multiple Star Trek series.
NHL hockey, unlike Star Trek, is not scripted after all and the good guys don't always win.