Bergevin: There were no easy nights in North Division
Montreal Canadiens general manager Marc Bergevin isn't buying the idea that the North Division was easy to play in.
"There was not an easy night in our division," Bergevin said Saturday, per Sportsnet. "Like I said, travel was hard. Even the last-place team, or close to the last-place team, the Ottawa Senators, they finished pretty strong, and if it wasn't for their start they'd probably be battling for a playoff spot."
He added, "Plus, hockey in Canada, you're in the spotlight every night. So it was a tough division and hockey was at its best. Every team almost had superstars, and it was not easy."
The NHL realigned its divisions for the 2020-21 season due to the COVID-19 pandemic. As a result of the Canada-U.S. border being closed, the league was forced to create a seven-team all-Canadian division.
The division was criticized throughout the year for not being as competitive as the other three. Some have pointed to the fact that the Canadiens made the postseason despite finishing in 18th in the league's overall standings.
Several of this season's top performers hailed from the division. Edmonton Oilers star Connor McDavid led the league with 105 points, while Toronto Maple Leafs sniper Auston Matthews won the "Rocket" Richard Trophy with 41 goals. Five of the top 10 scorers came from the North: McDavid, Matthews, Leon Draisaitl, Mitch Marner, and Mark Scheifele.
The Canadiens are the final team standing in the North after defeating the Maple Leafs and Winnipeg Jets in the first two rounds. The club will open its third-round series against the Vegas Golden Knights on Monday night.