Stanley Cup semifinals preview: Golden Knights vs. Canadiens

    Emily Kaplan is ESPN’s national NHL reporter.

The Vegas Golden Knights were a juggernaut during the 2021 NHL regular season, and in the West Division finals, they made the Presidents’ Trophy-winning Colorado Avalanche look like pretenders.

Meanwhile, the Montreal Canadiens seemed to make the North Division bracket by default as the No. 4 seed. And yet, they shocked the heavily favored Toronto Maple Leafs in the first round, before even more shockingly sweeping the heavily favored Winnipeg Jets in division finals.

So will it be the Canadiens returning to the Stanley Cup Final — and looking to bring the Cup back to Canada for the first time since they did it in 1993 — or will the Golden Knights get another shot at the Cup after nearly winning in their inaugural season?

Let’s break it down position-by-position, assess the special teams and injury status of both clubs and make a series pick.

Note: Advanced stats are from Hockey Reference, Natural Stat Trick and Evolving Hockey.

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