The Montreal Canadiens have fallen 2-0 against the New York Rangers in game 1. Tonight was a real goaltending battle between Henrik Lundqvist and Carey Price, with only one goal against between the two (2nd goal was an ENG).
With the Bell Centre louder than ever, the Habs got off to a great start. During the intensified, hard-hitting 1st period, the Habs seemed to be in full control of the play. Despite piling up chance after chance, Montreal could not solve Henrik Lundqvist. With the Habs all over the Rangers and outshooting them 8-2, it was to no one’s surprise that the Rangers struck first on only their 3rd shot of the game. Tanner Glass put the Rangers on the board, roofing a perfectly placed backhand past Carey Price, after gaining possession of the loose puck off of a Tomas Plekanec faceoff win. Yes, you read that right, Tanner Glass scored on Carey Price. The same Tanner Glass that had one goal all season, and one goal in 60 career playoff games prior to tonight. The Habs finished off the period with successive power plays but still, could not buy a goal despite having 16 shots compared to New York’s 5.
Using the momentum gained after two successful penalty kills, the Rangers went on to control most of the play during the 2nd period. The Habs were able to get some chances but dropped off considerably compared to their first-period performance. The Rangers had a few power plays of their own at the end of the period, including a 5 on 3. Like the Habs, the Rangers also could not bury one on their period ending powerplays.
The 3rd period was very lackluster compared to the 1st two periods. Despite the Habs needing a goal to tie the game, they could not seem to generate many scoring chances with the Rangers entering defensive mode. With around 5 minutes left in the game, Phillip Danault took an unintelligent tripping penalty 200 feet away from his own net, ruining the Habs chances of tying the game.With 1:10 left in the game, Michael Grabner ensured the win with an empty-net goal, putting it five-hole past a sprawling Alexander Radulov. With the game nearing an end, Andrei Markov was given a game misconduct for spearing Rick Nash down low. Although very unlikely, Markov may be suspended for his actions, which is about one of the last things that Montreal needs right now.
Saying that tonight’s game was a physical one would be an understatement. The two teams combined for 98 hits over the course of the game. A big chunk of those 98 hits were hard hits as well, with every player putting their all into each and every hit. Both teams showed how much they want to win this series with the hitting display put on tonight. With all of these hits also comes a lot of tension between players, so expect there to be quite a few mix-ups during the remainder of the series. If both teams continue this hard-hitting play and tension continues to be built, this series could be one of the top matchups of the entire playoffs.
The King Has Returned
Despite a poor season, as well as having a rough record at the Bell Centre, Henrik Lundqvist proved to everyone tonight that he still should be considered one of the world’s best. Lundqvist stopped all 31 shots that he faced tonight, picking up his 10th career playoff shutout. If the King continues this stellar play, the Habs could be in for a short series.
Alex Galchenyuk was demoted to the 4th line recently by Claude Julien. Despite having the 4th lowest ice time among Habs forwards and playing alongside Ott and Martinsen, Galchenyuk was one of Montreal’s top players tonight, generating chance after chance. With that being said, why on earth is Galchenyuk still playing on the fourth line? Despite many saying that Galchenyuk has been very poor as of late, he is actually 2nd in Montreal scoring since Julien took over for Michel Therrien. If Galchenyuk is not promoted back to where he belongs by next game, many will begin to wonder what is really going on in this situation. With the Habs already having trouble scoring, they need Galchenyuk in the top 6 more than ever. Galchenyuk could be a key factor in determining whether or not Montreal will go far in the playoffs, but in order for us to find out, he must first be given the ice time and linemates that he deserves.
Far From Over
The Rangers still need to win another 3 games in order to advance to round 2. With this in mind, this series is far from over. The Habs did not play all that bad tonight, and with a few tweaks here in there, they should be able to come back from this early deficit.
Game Two will take place on Friday night at the Bell Centre once again. Puck drop will be at 7:00 EST. Go Habs Go!