Playoff Pre-Game: Montreal Canadiens @ New York Rangers, Round 1 Game 4

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The Montreal Canadiens will be taking on the New York Rangers in game 4 tonight at MSG. The Habs earned their 1st lead of the series lead on Sunday night, going ahead 2 games to 1. They will be looking to pull within one game of winning the series tonight.

The Habs had one of their best games of the season in game 3. Montreal seemed to be in full control of the game shift after shift. Due to their strong play, the Habs were rewarded with a 3-1 win.

After nearly two full scoreless periods, Artturi Lehkonen opened the floodgates with a powerplay goal. The goal came with only 2:23 left in the 2nd and put Montreal in a good position going into the final period. The Habs put the game to rest with two goals in the 3rd. First, Shea Weber buried a sweet Alex Galchenyuk pass into an open net. Alexander Radulov then followed this up with an unbelievable goal. With a defender right on his back, Radulov managed to pull off a Forsberg, sliding it past Lundqvist with only one hand on his stick. Brady Skjei broke Carey Price’s shutout late in the game after his point shot deflected off of Paul Byron. Despite the goal, the Habs were able to close out the game.

While it was good to get the series lead on Sunday, no game thus far will be as important as game 4. If the Habs can manage to jump ahead 3-1 in the series, they will put themselves in a great position to succeed. A 3-1 lead would mean that the Rangers would have to win 3 straight games. While this is already very difficult on its own, 2 of the 3 games will be played at the Bell Centre. With the Habs being as good as they are at the Bell Centre, I cannot see this happening. To sum it up, a win today, and Montreal should have no problem finishing the series off.

 

Storylines

 

Success On Both Ends

In game 1 of the series, the Habs were unable to score. Next game, the Habs did the exact opposite of this and played terrible defensively. In game 3 the Habs were able to play their best on both ends of the ice, scoring goals and keeping the puck out of their net. Due to this, Montreal was in full control of the game and walked away with a dominant win. When the Habs find their game of offense and defense, they can play with any team in the league. If they are able to do this on a consistent basis, they should be able to get past the Rangers and go far in the playoffs.

 

Special Teams

After going 0/7 on the powerplay throughout the first 2 games, the Habs were finally able to get it going in game 3, scoring 2 powerplay goals on 3 attempts. Without these 2 goals, the whole game could have changed and Montreal may not be up in this series. While Montreal was able to get out of their power play slump, the Rangers continued to struggle. The Rangers have yet to score a single goal on 10 attempts in this series. A big part of this is due to Montreal’s very strong penalty kill under Claude Julien. Before the firing of Michel Therrien, the Habs had the 22nd best penalty kill in the league. Since Julien has taken over, the Habs have had the best penalty kill in the league. Playoff games are often decided by special teams, and if the Canadiens continue to dominate in this department, they will continue to win games.

 

Price’s Puck Playing

While Carey Price is already better than most, if not all goalies at stopping the puck, one thing that really separates him from the rest is his puck playing ability. By stopping and moving the puck to his teammates, he allows his team to break out of their zone with more success. As a result of this, less time is spent in Montreal’s own end, and the opposition gets less scoring chances. In the 1st two games, the Rangers tried to keep the puck away from Price on dump-ins as much as possible. With the Rangers doing this, Price rarely touched the puck throughout the games. In game 3, New York seemed to draw away from this strategy. Price was able to play the puck much more often. With Price commonly playing the puck, the Rangers only managed 21 shots on goal. As a result of this, the Habs won the game with ease and will continue to do so if the Rangers allow Carey Price to play the puck.

 

There will be no lineup changes for tonight’s game. Puck drop is at 7:00 EST. Go Habs Go!

Thomas D'Onofrio

Thomas D'Onofrio is the 16-year-old writer for the website Puck Planet. Anything Thomas usually does revolves around the sport of hockey. He has been a huge Montreal Canadiens fan since the young age of 4, as well a big hockey fan in general. He has also been playing hockey for over 10 years. It has always been a dream of his to make a living our of the sport he loves, whether it is in media, management, or actually playing hockey at a high level. By being able to write for Puck Planet, he has taken the first big step towards reaching his dreams. He hopes for a long, successful tenure with Puck Planet, with many great things to come in the future! Feel free to follow his Twitter @TDonofrio31, for constant Habs and Hockey tweets.

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