Every week, we’ll provide a recap and accompaniment to the latest episode of Quest for the Stanley Cup, the NHL docuseries about the playoffs available exclusively in the U.S. on ESPN+.
This week we dive into Episode 5, titled “Chasing the Champs.”
Describe this episode in 10 words or fewer
The most intense, entertaining, revelatory on-ice action this season.
Anything from Game 7 between the New York Islanders and Tampa Bay Lightning or Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final between the Lightning and Montreal Canadiens. “Quest” thrives when the show focuses in to tell the story of a single game. It absolutely rules when the single game has extremely high stakes. Every hit, shot, goal, save, coach-screaming, player-taunting moment of these games is so vividly captured that you’re enthralled even if you already know the outcome.
The episode opens with the clinching game for the Canadiens against the Vegas Golden Knights, including the handshake line at the end. Vegas coach Pete DeBoer has a moment with Montreal winger Corey Perry, whose Dallas Stars team eliminated the Knights in the bubble last summer. “You got me again,” said DeBoer to Perry, adding “maybe sign with us this summer.” Hey, not until July 28, sir!
Lightning forward Pat Maroon could do a solid 15-minute stand-up set with the amount of chirps in his repertoire. But his go-to insult against Josh Anderson of Montreal is as biting as it is self-deprecating: “You have as many points as me … it’s embarrassing … the same amount of points as MEEEE,” with his voice cracking on the last work. He uses the insult twice in the episode against Anderson. The best thing about the insult? It wasn’t even true! Anderson had four points and Maroon had three before the Stanley Cup Final.
Both the Canadiens and the Lightning have to figure out what to do with their respective conference championship trophies. Montreal’s players start polling their teammates who have won it before — like defenseman Joel Edmundson, formerly of the St. Louis Blues — about trophy etiquette. Meanwhile, the Lightning make sure the same four players who posed with the trophy after winning the Eastern Conference championship last postseason do so again after defeating the Islanders — and like last season, that the trophy gets touched. Narrator Corey Stoll notes that this is an example of the Lightning ignoring superstitions, which is weird because this is almost even more credulous.
How many times has Brendan Gallagher heard this during a game? pic.twitter.com/IsrXVwxSZA
— Greg Wyshynski (@wyshynski) July 4, 2021
The episode does a great job of capturing the extracurricular activities between the Bolts and Habs, including the wrestling match between Mikhail Sergachev and Brendan Gallagher in Game 1. Briefly teammates in Montreal, they continued to exchange pleasantries in Game 2. Gallagher’s response? “I’m just havin’ fun, Sergy!”
The episode spends some time with Steven Stamkos, who talks about missing all but one game of last season’s Stanley Cup run and being in the lineup for the entirety of this one. We get to see him enthusiastically call the starting lineup and do a couple of sit-down interviews. Honestly, Stamkos has been through a lot, and we’re just happy for the guy. You get the sense the show is, too.
Jon Cooper. This season has come dangerously close to being “Hard Knocks: Tampa Bay Lightning” with the amount of time we’ve spent with them, but it’s hard not to dedicate chunks of shows to someone has charismatic as Cooper. Here, we hang with Mr. Cooper’s family in their home and at the rink, while once again getting a chance to see him give fiery instructions in the dressing room like “finish these f—ers off.”
While it’s important to remind us that these playoffs have been played during a pandemic, and that the Canadiens have been impacted by it, the decision to cover Joel Armia‘s return to the lineup before Game 2 was a dull detour in between intense game action.
Lingering questions after watching
I’m so confused by this fan at Game 1. pic.twitter.com/Wu44KL1fOm
— Greg Wyshynski (@wyshynski) July 4, 2021
Spotted outside of Game 1 in Tampa … what is this? A Canadiens fan? But maybe also Ant-Man, if he went skiing? Is this air-conditioned? So confused.