Corey Perry is looking to help defeat the Tampa Bay Lightning, not get even with them.
Nine months ago, the forward was a member of the Dallas Stars, who lost the best-of-7 2020 Stanley Cup Final to the Lightning in six games. Now he’ll be facing them in the Final again, this time as a member of the Montreal Canadiens.
“Yeah, another year playing the same team,” the 36-year-old said Saturday. “It’s a little different this year, obviously, being here in Montreal, but it’s another great test. They’re a heck of a hockey team. I mean, pretty much the same team as last year. It’s going to be a good test for us and we’re up for the challenge.
“Personally, I don’t think there’s revenge or anything. Like I said, it’s a different year, a different team, it’s a new test, and we’ll see what happens.”
Perry’s scouting report of the lessons learned against the Lightning a year ago will be one of the focal points of preparation for the Canadiens heading into Game 1 at Tampa Bay on Monday (8 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, SN, TVAS). He scored three goals in the Final last year and understands the difficulties of going up against the star-studded Lightning roster, beginning with goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy.
“You look up and down their lineup,” Perry said. “You start with their goalie, a world-class goalie, and then you probably have one of the top defensemen in the League in [Victor] Hedman. And the list goes on. [Nikita] Kucherov. [Steven] Stamkos. You can talk about them all day long.”
While there is no arguing the Lightning’s elite skill, Perry said the addition of sandpaper through acquisitions like forwards Barclay Goodrow and Pat Maroon last year made them a tougher team to play against, and will again.
“They added that grit at the deadline last year and they’ve kind of taken off,” Perry said. “Like I said, it’s going to be a good challenge for us, and we’re excited for the opportunity.
“We’re here for a reason, they’re here for a reason, and it’s going to be a good series.”
Perry, who became an unrestricted free agent after the 2020 final, signed a one-year, $750,000 contract Dec. 28 and joined the team he grew up rooting for. He has nine points (three goals, six assists) in 17 playoff games this year and has been one of Montreal’s most effective forwards.
Perry and fellow veteran Eric Staal have been preaching to their teammates that it is vital to make the most of their chance to win the Stanley Cup now that the Canadiens have reached the final. Both were members of Cup-winning teams early in their respective careers; Staal with the Carolina Hurricanes in 2006, Perry with the Anaheim Ducks one year later.
Their message to the team? “Don’t take it for granted,” Perry said.
“I was sitting in the dressing room the other night, sitting beside Eric Staal, and he was telling me he hasn’t been back since 2006 when he won,” Perry said. “We both looked at each other. I said the first time I was back was last year since 2006-07, so I know the feeling.
“You come into this league at a young age and you have success early. I went to the conference final my first year and we ended up winning my second year, so you think it’s going to happen over and over again; you can keep the same team together and just ride the wave. But that’s not the case. Teams, with the [salary] cap and everything going on, teams change quickly, and you never know when that is going to happen.
“As a group, we’ve talked about that. Live the moment and enjoy it. Take on this wild ride and have fun with it because you never know when that next chance is going to happen ever again.”