The Tampa Bay Lightning, who are the defending champions, will take on the Montreal Canadiens, who are seeking a third title since 1993, the last year any team from Canada has won

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Carey Price of the Montreal Canadiens and Andrei Vasilevskiy of the Tampa Bay Lightning
Credit: Minas Panagiotakis/Getty; Jamie Sabau/NHLI via Getty

This year's Stanley Cup Finals will see a matchup of old school versus modern-day hockey.

Monday kicks off the 2021 series against the Montreal Canadiens, who are the NHL's most-decorated franchise hoping to bring back a title to the organization and Canada to end a 28-year drought, and the Tampa Bay Lightning, who are the defending champions seeking a third title since 1993.

It will also mark the first meeting of traditional Eastern Conference teams since 1980, thus the teams won't have to change time zones.

To get to the Cup Finals, the Habs defeated the Toronto Maple Leafs in the first round and the Winnipeg Jets in the second round before beating the Vegas Golden Knights in the Western Conference finals.

Meanwhile, the Lightning took down the Florida Panthers and Carolina Hurricanes to advance to the Eastern Conference finals, where the team won against the New York Islanders.

Tampa Bay Lightning and Montreal Canadiens
Credit: Minas Panagiotakis/Getty; Bruce Bennett/Getty

History

Montreal is looking to hang a 25th Cup banner, having won the Stanley Cup 24 times in their 112-year history, including once before the formation of the NHL.

Tampa Bay won last year as well as in 2004.

While the Habs hope to end a 28-year Cup drought, the Lightning look to join the 2016 and 2017 Pittsburgh Penguins as the only back-to-back champions since the NHL's salary cap era began in 2005. Prior to the institution of the salary cap, the Penguins also won in 1991 and 1992, and the Detroit Red Wings were victorious in 1997 and 1998.

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Notable names

While each NHL team is required to have a minimum of 20 players or a maximum of 23 players at any one time on their roster, there are some marquee stars to keep an eye out for in the Cup Finals.

For the Habs, goalie Carey Price, defensemen Shea Weber and Ben Chiarot, right wingers Brendan Gallagher, Cole Caufield and Tyler Toffoli as well as centers Nick Suzuki and Phillip Danault are expected to make big plays.

Interim coach Dominique Ducharme will miss the first two games due to being in self-isolated quarantine since June 18 after testing positive for COVID-19. Right wing Joel Armia, who also previously tested positive, cleared COVID protocols but will be a game-time decision. He did, however, fly to Florida to be with the team.

As for the 2020 champs, goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy, captain Steven Stamkos, center Brayden Point, right winger Nikita Kucherov and left winger Pat Maroon are expected to lead the team.

Maroon could also make history if he wins: He has the chance to inscribe his name on the Cup after three consecutive winning seasons (Lightning and St. Louis Blues). Maroon is already one of just eight players to win a Stanley in two straight seasons with different teams. Only two players, Ed Litzenberger and Eddie Gerard, have won three in a row with two different teams.

Schedule

Game 1 on June 28: Canadiens at Lightning, 8 p.m. EST (NBC Sports)
Game 2 on June 30: Canadiens at Lightning, 8 p.m. EST (NBC Sports)
Game 3 on July 2: Lightning at Canadiens, 8 p.m. EST (NBC)
Game 4 on July 5: Lightning at Canadiens, 8 p.m. EST (NBC)

If necessary:
Game 5 on July 7: Canadiens at Lightning, 8 p.m. EST (NBC)
Game 6 on July 9: Lightning at Canadiens, 8 p.m. EST (NBC)
Game 7 on July 11: Canadiens at Lightning, 7 p.m. EST (NBC)

All games will also be streaming on Peacock.