After going down 1-0 in the series on Wednesday night, the Montreal Canadiens will look to even things up against the New York Rangers in Game 2 of the 1st round. The Rangers beat the Habs 2-0 in the hard-hitting, fast paced game 1. Despite the scoreline, Montreal did not play all that bad. They threw 31 shots towards the Rangers net including several grade A scoring chances. Although they had their chances, Montreal could not put anything past Henrik Lundqvist, as the King showed signs of his old self and proved he is still one of the league’s best.
Game 2 will be a crucial one for the Habs, as it is the difference between tying the series up or going down 2-0. A win for the Habs could help them gain them a lot of momentum going forward in the series. As we seen many times this year, the Habs can be very streaky. If they are able to get hot with a win, the Habs would put themselves in a good position to win consecutive games and jump ahead in the series. If the Habs do lose tonight, they will need to take 2 out of the 3 games that will be played at MSG in New York. Although possible, this seems like a very tough task, especially in a building as passionate as MSG.
Habs Lineup Notes
As the Habs had a decent game 1, head coach Claude Julien has opted to keep the exact same lines used in game 1, on both offense and defense. Julien stated today that there is no reason to panic and that he will be sticking to his guns with their current line combinations. In other news, Alexei Emelin was not at practice, and will most likely miss game 2. Claude Julien added to this, noting that Emelin is very doubtful for tonight’s game, and is still day-to-day with a lower-body injury.
The Habs current lines have been taking a lot of stick from Habs fans, especially regarding Alex Galchenyuk. Galchenyuk is far too good and skilled to be wasted on the 4th line. With the Habs already lacking scoring, there is no reason to have your 3rd highest point scorer playing little time with below average players. Another player Habs fans have complained about is Dwight King. King is far too slow to keep up with Lehkonen and Shaw and has hurt their play because of this. If Claude Julien really does not want Galchenyuk in the top 6 or at center, the least he could do is switch him up with King. The line of Galchenyuk-Shaw-Lehkonen showed potential at the end of the year and could provide some much-needed depth scoring against the Rangers.
Regardless of what happens with the lines, the Habs need to start scoring if they hope to stand a chance against the Rangers. As he did in game 1, Carey Price will continue to give the Habs a chance to win night in and night out. Unfortunately for the Habs, Price cannot score goals as well and could only carry this team to a certain extent, and the Habs are pushing this limit with their poor offense. We all know that Carey Price will be able to get the job done. It’s now up to the offense to start producing and help push the Habs into round 2.
Back in 2011, Claude Julien and the Boston Bruins lost the 1st game of the playoffs by a score of 2-0. Claude Julien would go on to lift the Stanley Cup in that same year.
Puck drop is at 7:00 EST at the Bell Centre. Go Habs Go!