Takeaways from ‘On the Cusp’


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 6, titled “On the Cusp.”


Describe this episode in 10 words or less

Thirty charming, entertaining minutes of delaying the inevitable.

Best scene

There was a bunch of intense on-ice action from Games 3 and 4 of the Stanley Cup Final in Montreal, but obviously nothing was more stressful than the end of Game 4 in overtime. The stretch from Shea Weber‘s high stick that cut Ondrej Palat late in the third period to Josh Anderson‘s game-winner is hypnotic, as the Canadiens found a brief reprieve before being eliminated in Game 5 — which will be covered in full in next Friday’s season finale, one imagines.

Best advertisement

Lightning coach Jon Cooper is nothing if not media-savvy. So when he answered a question about keeping his team focused after taking a 2-0 series lead with “watch ‘Quest For The Stanley Cup’ and find out,” we knew it was going to make the episode. And boom, it was the cold open.

Best replica

Look, even if this was created by Coors and handed to someone in the crowd outside Bell Centre — which is our suspicion — that is quite a glorious Stanley Cup replica.

Best cameo

Not only do we get to see Tomas Tatar, the forgotten man on the Canadiens who last played in Game 5 of the first round, but we see him chatting with Montreal coach Dominique Ducharme, who presumably keeps scratching him. Wild!

Best superstition

Eric Staal had a lovely segment in which he spoke with his children and his brother, former NHLer Jared Staal. We found out that Staal was given a special box of M&Ms that were in Montreal colors, with some having his number on them. It was tradition to eat some “for energy” before the game. He had 10 before their Game 4 victory.

Best entertainment option

Look, not for nothing, but if the options during Canadian quarantine are ping-pong or that sweet “Tron Legacy” pinball game in the corner, we’re riding the light cycle every time. But Blake Coleman and Ross Colton wanted to get their paddle on instead.

Episode MVP

Dominique Ducharme. The episode captures the return of Ducharme from his stay on the NHL’s COVID-related absences list, and in the process presents a character for whom you can’t help but root. He jokes about not being the guy to skate laps in practice. He fires up his team with some confident speeches in the locker room. The series has been so Jon Cooper-centric — justifiably so — that it’s nice to see a bit more of his counterpart now that he was eligible to return.

Constructive criticism

One of the biggest moments of the Stanley Cup Final was when the Canadiens made a handful of lineup changes while down 3-0 in the series, including the removal of Jesperi Kotkaniemi from the lineup. It felt like this was completely glossed over in the episode, and that omission felt particularly glaring when Alexander Romanov — one of the players added into the lineup — scored a critical goal in Game 4. It felt like this could have added a little more drama to the Lightning’s only loss.

Lingering questions after watching

Why aren’t faces of the players in the dressing room shown on camera? We noticed this in an earlier episode, specific to the Canadiens. But neither team had their players’ faces shown in the room, while the coaches’ faces were visible. Artistic choice? Local regulation? It seemed odd.





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Takeaways from ‘On the Cusp’

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