That's not always a good recipe for success. And yet, here they are, having already eliminated one Stanley Cup favorite, and involved in a dog fight with another one, two wins away from one of the most improbable conference final runs in recent memory.
There's still a long way to go, obviously, and they could just as easily lose the next two games, but can a team that's been outshot by 126 shots in the first two rounds really be one of the NHL's final four teams? I decided to go back and look at all of the conference finals teams since the lockout (16 teams) to see what their shot totals looked like in the first two rounds, and if any of them compared to Montreal.
There was only one that was even remotely close: the 2006 Edmonton Oilers.
-- Only three of the 16 teams had a negative shot differential in the first two rounds: the 2008 Flyers (-19), the 2006 Sabres (-6) and the 2006 Oilers (-79).
Here's a quick look at the 16 teams, with this year's Montreal team thrown in just to show how it compares. Obviously, it stands out on its own.
The '06 Oilers (represented by the blue mark just to the right of the Canadiens mark) would be the obvious -- and only -- comparison for this year's Canadiens team. And like the Canadiens, the Oilers were also a No. 8 seed, and also eliminated that season's Presidents Trophy winner in a shocking first-round upset.
As the final Western Conference playoff team, Edmonton drew an opening round series with the top seed Detroit Red Wings. The Wings were by far the most dominant team in the regular season that year, finishing with 124 points, 11 more than the next closest club (very similar to this year's Capitals team that Montreal eliminated).
Despite being outshot by a 238-156 margin in the opening round, Edmonton found a way to win a bunch of one and two-goal decisions (just like the Canadiens) to eliminate the Wings in six games, and continued to ride Dwayne Roloson all the way to Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Final, ultimately losing to the Carolina Hurricanes and Conn Smythe winning goaltender Cam Ward. (And they might have ended up winning the whole thing had it not been for that unforgettable ending to Game 1 involving Ty Conklin).
Based on recent history it appears to be a long shot, but Jaroslav Halak is certainly playing well enough at this point to repeat that sort of magical run.