Game Four Recap: Rangers 2 Canadiens 1

Gallagher stopped by Lundqvist in Game 4. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

The Canadiens were up 2-1 in the series heading into Broadway for game four of their best of seven series. Coming off of a dominant 3-1 victory on Sunday, people were curious to see if they could carry that type of play into game four. 

The first period turned out as expected. The Rangers were playing desperate hockey while the Habs were rather nonchalant in their own zone. The majority of the first period was controlled by the Rangers and as a result, they capitalized first. With 8:21 remaining in the first period, Jesper Fast takes advantage of an Andrei Markov gaffe and slides one through Carey Price.

1-0 Rangers.

Torrey Mitchell got sprung on a breakaway but Henrik Lundqvist made a nice pad save. Shortly after, Alexander Radulov won a puck battle along the boards (surprise, surprise), fed Mitchell, who fed it back to Shea Weber and back to Mitchell for the one timer goal with 1:24 remaining in the first period. The game entered the first intermission with the score tied.

Following the commercial break, the commentators broke down the play and it appeared that the Canadiens had too many men on the ice when the goal was scored. Although that may be true, the Rangers had too many men on the ice as well.

1-1.

The second period was, well.. brutal, and that seems to be a recurring theme with the Canadiens. Not just under Claude Julien but under his predecessor as well. Although it would be nice for this team to be able to play a full 60 minutes, if there is one period that shouldn’t be the team’s strongest, it should be the second.

That entire second period felt like an extended Rangers powerplay. Through ten minutes, Les Boys had an underwhelming total of two shots while the Rangers had ten. For the following ten, the Canadiens added only four more while the Rangers added two.

Max Pacioretty over committed at the Canadiens blue line in an attempt to clear, Ryan McDonagh picked up the puck and fed it to Rick Nash (left alone) who drives to the net and slips a backhander under the left pad of Carey Price.

The advanced statistics back up the eye test about Tuesday night’s dreadful second period. Their Corsi after two periods was 27-40 (40.3%).

They got obliterated.

2-1 Rangers 

The third period was fairly even between the two teams until the Canadiens pulled Price for the attacker. As expected, the Canadiens played desperation hockey. A slap shot by Weber beat Henrik Lundqvist right above his glove but hit the post and bounced back out.

Final Score: 2-1

 

Post game thoughts: Negatives

Max Pacioretty

Whether people like to admit it or not, Max Pacioretty has not had the greatest start to the post-season. I think it’s important for people to understand that fans/media calling out a player for their poor play doesn’t mean they are “running them out of town”. This is Montreal, players are under a microscope. I’m not criticizing Pacioretty for not scoring, it’s not (completely) a matter of point totals. That being said, a captain’s responsibility is to lead, take charge, take control etc. Pacioretty has yet to show that so far. Players can go pointless for games but still be noticeable. Brendan Gallagher has yet to add a goal in the post-season, he’s been noticeable. Scoring aside, Pacioretty doesn’t seem to be showing any drive, any passion in his game (thus far). That is where the criticism is coming from, not only the lack of scoring. Asking, or even just expecting something out of your captain does not make you any bit negative. That narrative is started by the “cheer no matter what” crowd who accepts mediocrity as excellence when it isn’t.

Claude Julien commented on Pax Pacioretty’s performance so far and defended his play and talked about how Pacioretty is playing an important role for the Canadiens so far this series:

“I think we have to be very careful, personally, that we’re jumping on a guy that’s scored over 30 goals every year and all of a sudden people will think, ‘Well, he hasn’t scored yet, so let’s jump on Max Pacioretty’ and Max Pacioretty is a good captain right now and is doing whatever he can and wants to be better. So, at the end of the day, my job is to help him be the best player he can be and then if you ask him he’s gonna tell you the same thing. He’s a good player and we’re gonna continue to make him a good player whether you guys think he hasn’t done enough or not. From me internally, I think he’s done a lot and I think he’s got an oppourtunity to be better if he get’s a chance to be better; and my job is to take the pressure off him while he’s getting pressure from elsewhere. That’s how I handle things.”

Much like the regular season, it usually takes the captain a little bit longer to get going offensively in the playoffs. He is currently leading the Canadiens with 17 shots on goal so far this series. And looking back at previous playoff statistics, Pacioretty is bound to get going offensively at this point in the series.

Post game thoughts: Positives

The Rangers aren’t that good

The Rangers, being down 2-1 in the series came out flying in game four. They played desperation hockey as if it was game seven and were only able to put the puck in the back of the net twice. The first goal was simply a gift that came off the skate of Andrei Markov. The Canadiens were one Weber slapshot away from tying the game to send it to overtime. They finished the game and the scoring chances were fairly even with the Canadiens leading in a few categories:

You shouldn’t be worried.

The Canadiens play host to the New York Rangers Thursday night, 7:00PM eastern time at the Bell Centre for game five.

For All About The Habs,

Patrick Tallon

Twitter: PatrickTallon81

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