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2021 Series: Eric Staal believes the final would have been different with a packed Bell Centre

In the midst of his third career Stanley Cup Final(and confident he’ll be back on track), Eric Staal spoke to Jonathan Bernier of Le Journal de Montréal about his final with the Canadiens in 2021.

The people of Quebec will remember a playoff run in which they were freed, gradually, from the sanitary restrictions in place. From the (illegal) gatherings outside the Bell Centre to the small crowds allowed inside the amphitheatre, Quebec felt the summer approaching as it celebrated its team’s finest run since 1993.

That said, it’s all very poetic, but it doesn’t change the fact that for the two games played in Montreal during the final, only 3,500 people were allowed inside the Bell Centre.

After playing in front of a packed house against the Lightning, that’s not a good atmosphere to be in.

Eric Staal believes that the final series could have been different, had there been a full-capacity crowd in Montreal for games #3 and #4.

“With that many spectators in the amphitheatre, it probably would have been different. You live that energy, you feel it. I noticed it as a player on the opposing team. I played in the playoffs there, with the Hurricanes, in 2006. It’s an incredible atmosphere. But what can you say, it was the reality we had to deal with at the time.”

-Eric Staal

Considering that the Habs won Game 4 in overtime at home, Staal’s assessment is that the CH could have snatched Game 3 from the Lightning’s grasp in front of a packed house. As it was, Montreal lost 6-3.

Is he right? Theoretically yes – anything’s possible and we’ll never know – but in reality, we can seriously question whether Dominique Ducharme’s men would have been uplifted enough to win the Cup in front of a compact club like the Bolts.

There was no one there, either, as was the case against Toronto. And the Canadiens beat the Golden Knights in a similar context.

The series would have been different, yes, if the butterfly effect is anything to go by. How different is the question.

Is an asterisk necessary?

En Rafale

– Trevor Zegras and Jack Hughes, published by Cole Caufield.

– Class.

– It takes.

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