Montreal, who will face the New York Rangers in a battle of Original Six franchises in their series, may have the best chance of the Canadian clubs to advance from the East. There is definitely something special about playoff time in Montreal, as the city begins to emerge from a long winter and springs to life with a renewed vibrancy and hope. Three years ago NY made the Stanley Cup Finals, and two years ago they were back in the conference finals.
Montreal Canadiens minus-150 vs. Many teams came close: Vancouver in 2011, Ottawa in 2007, Edmonton in 2006, and Calgary in 2004.
And just another reason the Stanley Cup playoffs are so great. More specifically can this be the year that the Montreal Canadiens win their 25th Cup and parade it down Ste.
"I know Stepan personally".
The crowd was driven into a frenzy and the Canadiens came out energized and hitting everything that moved. The previous 82 games are thrown out the window, and all that matters is the here and now. Everything else is a clean slate. Finishing second might cost a team home-ice advantage in the second round of the playoffs, but Montreal might have been better with that problem than the first-round coin toss that they have against NY. That would be awful form, and a bad waste of a special moment.
Despite the odds being stacked against them, the New York Rangers ignored the outside noise and picked up a crucial win in Game One.
Up front, Mats Zuccarello took the offensive, and delivered or received several hits during the game.
Thankfully Montreal's penalty kill remains strong, and they did not allow any goals on four opportunities, including an extended 5-on-3 situation.
"We all know that he's good on the first shot when he sees it", Montreal winger Alexander Radulov said of Lundqvist. Coming into the playoffs, Lundqvist was a bit of a question mark for the Rangers. Interestingly enough, it's Kreider who led NY in goals this season with 28 and will be a huge factor in the series once again.
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The Canadiens swept all three meetings in the regular season. Should this goal had gone in, history could have been quite different.
With Montreal playing on the power play in the second period, the Rangers netminder tracked a cross-ice pass and made a diving save on Shea Weber's one-timer. "He's a guy that we had signed as a depth player on a two-way contract".
Henrik Lundqvist was brilliant.
When Claude Julien first assembled the line of Alex Galchenyuk/Steve Ott/Andreas Martinsen it was met with completely justified confusion.
"He played well and he made a lot of the first saves", said Weber.
How are the Ottawa Senators, at 28-1, longer shots than the Maple Leafs, 25-1, despite the fact that Toronto has a much more hard first-round foe (Washington Capitals) than Ottawa does (Boston Bruins)? Meanwhile the fourth line just came crashing and bashing in, creating their own space.
There were usually some excellent, exciting stretches of hockey each night; but those were offset by prolonged dips in play, structural breakdowns, and a lacking compete level.
The Blueshirts ranked fourth in the National Hockey League in scoring, averaging 3.09 goals. Yet it was the fourth line of Glass, Oscar Lindberg and Jesper Fast that made the biggest impact. However, the most significant takeaway from this game was the fact that the Rangers were able to walk away with a victory even though they emulated the Canadiens' grittier game style. Going back to the predictions for this series, nobody said that the Canadiens were going to sweep the Rangers, and therefore the loss, however unfortunate, was inferred in everyone's views.