By Michael Hurley, CBS Boston
BOSTON (CBS) -- When the NHL announced its playoff format for this unique COVID-influenced 2021 season, the reseeding of the final four teams in the postseason was interesting on a number of levels.
While other cities may have had their reasons, in Boston it meant one thing: A Bruins-Canadiens Stanley Cup Final was possible.
And now, after the Canadiens hilariously defeated the Maple Leafs in Game 7 of their first-round series, the dream is still alive.
It's still unlikely, obviously, as both teams need to win two more rounds, which is always difficult. And the Canadiens -- by far the worst team in the postseason field -- will certainly have a bear of a time doing that.
Nevertheless! It is possible.
That's because the series taking place between the Vegas Golden Knights and Colorado Avalanche involves the two top teams in the playoffs. The winner of that series will face the lowest remaining seed in the postseason. The Jets and the Canadiens are indeed the lowest seeds still playing, so the winner of that series will get the Colorado-Vegas winner.
That leaves the winner of the Lightning-Hurricanes series to face the winner of the Bruins-Islanders series.
Even though Montreal had just 59 points this season, there is reason to believe they may hang with Winnipeg. In nine head-to-head matchups this year with the Jets, Montreal went 3-3-3.
What happens after the second round is anyone's guess. Teams have been locked in to their own divisions all year long, so they'll be facing brand-new opponents that they haven't seen since the bubble or last winter when they face off with a trip to the Cup Final on the line. That promises to be hockey mayhem.
And if the Bruins and Canadiens both make it to the next round -- a big if, no doubt -- then it figures to be one of the wilder modern storylines in the century-long rivalry between Boston and Montreal.
(If it happens, one can only hope that the Bruins welcome back Claude Julien, who was fired by the Canadiens midseason, to be a pregame "Fan Banner Captain" in Boston.)
The two teams have met in the playoffs 34 times before, with Montreal winning 25 of those series. They met in the postseason four teams from 2008-14, splitting those series.
They have met in the Stanley Cup Finals seven times before, in 1930, 1946, 1953, 1957, 1958, 1977 and 1978. So it's been a while. (Montreal won all seven of those Cup Finals vs. Boston, as you likely know.)
Most of us here on Earth weren't around for the 1930 Cup Final, and the memories of the '46, '53, '57 and '58 Final are for sure fuzzy for anyone who watched or participated. And while Ken Dryden's dominance of the Bruins is well-chronicled, even those late-'70s Finals were a very long time ago.
So at the very least, the possibility of a Boston-Montreal Cup Final is something to keep in the back of everyone's mind as the Stanley Cup Playoffs move along.
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