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Duffer’s Dabbles: Tatar Left Watching His Second Stanley Cup Final

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Tomas Tatar
Former Red Wing Tomas Tatar has been a healthy scratch for Montreal's last 15 playoff games.

The Montreal Canadiens are loaded with ex-Detroit Red Wings. However, if we’re talking ex-Detroit Red Wings who actually see the ice, well, that’s an entirely different story.

Defenseman Xavier Ouellet has watched every game of the 2021 Stanley Cup playoffs from the press box. Fellow rearguard Jon Merrill, he of the combination Dukes of Hazzard/Joe Dirt mullet/mustache, has suited up for 13 of 20 games, including the last eight in a row.

Then there’s left-winger Tomas Tatar. If you don’t believe that there’s two different seasons in the NHL – regular and playoffs – then Tatar is Exhibit that there in fact is. Tatar’s was Montreal’s scoring leader in 2019-20. Among Canadiens players, only forward Tyler Toffoil shows a better points-per-game average than Tatar (0.77) over the past two seasons.

However, with Montreal down 2-0 to the Tampa Bay Lightning in the Stanley Cup final and authors of a pair of goals through those losses, Tatar and his 77 goals over the past four seasons remain a healthy scratch. That’s expected to again be the case Monday and the Habs fight to stay alive in the series.

He’s been a healthy scratch the past 15 games. This isn’t a new experience for the 5-foot-10, 173-pound Tatar. When Vegas rolled to the Cup final in 2018, Tatar was a trade-deadline addition from Detroit. He played just eight playoff games and only two in the five-game final series against Washington.

Why you ask? Look at the numbers. During the regular season, Tatar averages 0.28 goals per game. In the playoffs, that pace drops off to 0.15. There simply isn’t a lot of room for little guys like him in postseason play, unless they possess Cole Caufield-level speed.

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