The New York Rangers are facing the Montreal Canadiens in a playoff series for the 16th time in franchise history. New York has won eight of 15 all-time playoff series against the Canadiens. The Canadiens swept the 2016-2017 season series versus the Rangers going 3-0. How did they match up in game one?
I think I speak for the majority of fans who thought the Canadiens would come out of the gates flying in game one. Those fans were right… for about 10 minutes. As expected, right from the opening whistle, Les Boys looked pumped, hitting everything that stood in their way. A monstrous hit from Jordie Benn at 17:20 really set the tone.
— Shayne Pasquino (@shaynepasquino) April 12, 2017
Momentum started to shift with 10:10 left in the first period. Off the face-off, Tanner Glass (who was recalled by the Rangers this March) took advantage of Paul Byron’s ill-advised pinch, jumped to the loose puck and threw a weak backhand on net. Carey Price, screened by both Jordie Benn and Jesper Fast, was unable to track the puck resulting in a goal against.
The Canadiens outplayed the Rangers for the majority of the first period. Shots were 14-5 in favour of the Canadiens. Although they outshot the Rangers, they never seemed to really test Lundqvist. He appeared rather shaky to start the game while also giving up some juicy rebounds. Nevertheless, the Canadiens went into the dressing room down only goal after 20 minutes of play.
The second period was arguably the worst period the team has ever played under Claude Julien. The Rangers absolutely destroyed the Steve Ott line with Nikita Nesterov and Nathan Beaulieu on the backend. At that point, shots were 10-1 in favour of the Rangers. Moreover, the Canadiens appeared drained, resulting in some lazy penalties. Phillip Danault went to the box for tripping resulting in an extended five-on-three powerplay. Both penalties were killed off (thank you Claude Julien) and the momentum slightly shifted in favour of the Habs. New York registered only three shots after that while the Canadiens added eight more before the end of the second frame.
The third period stayed relatively the same. Back and forth, not many scoring chances until Julien pulled Price. The pressure in the opposition’s end was short lived as Michael Grabner scored an empty net goal with 1:10 remaining in the third period.
Final score: 2-0 Rangers
Claude Julien risked one of his most skilled, lethal offensive threats (Galchenyuk) by putting him on the fourth line in an attempt to prove a point. He failed miserably. The organization’s treatment of Galchenyuk has been unfair and it’s something most fans (myself included) have a hard time understanding. In the playoffs, when the game is tighter and the amount of scoring decreases, it is only logical to play one of your best scoring forwards with other skilled forwards. At this point, Andreas Martinsen and Steve Ott don’t look playoff ready. It is now year five with Galchenyuk. He has been benched, called out, swapped from centre to wing numerous times in his career to “play the right way”. He had a 100% CF% at the end of the first period. Placing him at least somewhere in the top-9 will generate more scoring. Furthermore, the fact that we have to stress the importance of having one of their most skilled forwards in the top-nine is sad.
Aside from his ill-timed penalty, “number one centre” Phillip Danault looked dreadful last night. He rarely engaged in any play along the boards, he was knocked off the puck easily and seemed to have a hard time keeping up with the pace of the game. He looked more like a junior call up playing his first game than he did an NHL regular.
People were saying that Tomas Plekanec had about two good years left in him, and that was four years ago. The $12 million dollar extension for this player who seems to only perform in the regular season just keeps looking worse. At this point, dress someone who can make a difference in the post-season. Michael McCarron or Torrey Mitchell maybe?
Shea Weber looked like an absolute beast last night. I was worried about his lack of foot speed going into the post-season but given his smart hockey IQ, he rarely put himself in a vulnerable position. He finished the night with five shots on goal, one takeaway, two hits, two blocks, 11 shot attempts and 24:15 minutes of ice time.
Breaking Daniel Alfredsson’s playoff points record in the SHL had me thinking that the 21-year old would have the same sort of impact going into his first playoff run with the big boys. Lehkonen was tossed around a lot last night. He isn’t one to shy away from playing physical. The change in ice surface is still something he is getting used to. After game one, when asked about the physical play, he said, “I love it.” I’m certain he will make some minor adjustments to his game that will help him in this series. Last night he finished with two shots on goal, one takeaway and five hits.
— Corry Todd (@CorryTodd) April 13, 2017
Not to pick on Corry here, but Carey Price, along with the aforementioned Shea Weber and Artturi Lehkonen was one of the team’s best players last night stopping 29/30 shots. Carey Price should not be the one to blame for the goal scored by Tanner Glass. There is all this “Habs can’t score” talk. Well, neither can the Rangers. Glass’ goal was luck; it was also his second career playoff goal. A lucky break for Grabner sealed the Habs’ fate at the end. The scoring chances were very tight for both teams. The Rangers simply got a lucky break. The goals will come.
Final scoring chances were 21-20 for the Rangers, high danger chances were 7-6 Rangers, chances on net 11-10 for Montreal.
— Andrew Berkshire (@AndrewBerkshire) April 13, 2017
The Canadiens will play their second home game against the Rangers Friday night at 7 PM eastern time at the Bell Centre before heading to New York for game three.
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