Saturday, May 17, 2014

Playoff Preview: Canadiens vs Rangers (Round 3, Game 1)

Match Up:

The Canadiens are on to the third round and set to host Game 1 against the Rangers Saturday afternoon. For the Canadiens it's their second trip to the Conference Finals since their last Cup win in 1993. The Rangers have made the third round for a third time since they last hoisted the Cup in 1994, but neither team has been to a Stanley Cup Finals in the last 20 years.

The Habs and Rangers met three times during the regular season with each game ending in a shutout. The Habs won 2-0 and 1-0 in overtime while the Rangers earned a 1-0 victory at the Bell Centre. Three different goalies, Peter Budaj, Cam Talbot and Carey Price, each earned shutouts during the season series, and Cam Talbot played over 120 minutes of shutout hockey against the Habs before finally conceding a goal in overtime.

The game starts early at 1:00 pm and airs on RDS, CBC and NBC.

What to Watch:

PK Subban has led the Canadiens throughout the playoffs with 4 goals and 12 points in 11 games, but the real trouble for the Rangers could come in the form of a hot Max Pacioretty. Pacioretty has been held to 3 goals in these playoffs, but 2 have been series winners. He's also picked up 4 of his 7 playoff points in the last 3 games, including goals in his last 2.

The Rangers' big threat, Rick Nash, has yet to light the lamp in 14 playoff games this year after leading New York with 26 goals during the regular season. Nash does lead his team in shots during the postseason with 52.

But the real battle to watch this series is shaping up to be the duel in nets.Carey Price and Henrik Lundqvist last met in Sochi with a Gold Medal on the line and Price emerged victorious. Now the prize is a trip to the Stanley Cup Finals and both teams will look to their tenders to pave the way.

Carey Price has spent much of this season silencing his critics, and he's not stopping in the postseason. Last round, Price held the top-scoring team in the Eastern Conference to just one goal in the last two games to help the Habs advance.

Henrik Lundqvist squared of against two of the league's biggest threats in Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin and managed to give up just one goal per game in each of the final three matches against the Pens with the Rangers facing elimination. Lundqvist has an impressive 1.99 goals against average and a .931 save percentage in the playoffs.

What's at Stake:

The Canadiens are hosting Game 1 for the first time in these playoffs. They won both of their other first games in Tampa Bay and Boston, and will look to get off to the same start against the Rangers. New York will play their 15th game of the playoffs so fatigue could play a factor in the series, especially if the Canadiens find ways press the action.

Who's Out:

Alex Galchenyuk (knee) is the only injured player for either team, and his return is imminent now that he has begun taking part again in full practices with a contact jersey.

What Else:

The Canadiens and Rangers have not met in the playoffs since 1996, an opening round series the Rangers won 4 games to 2. Game 3 of that series marked the first playoff game played in the Molson Centre, but the Canadiens lost all three games in their new home after winning the first two on the road.

In 14 previous playoff meetings dating back to 1930 the Canadiens and Rangers have a perfect split, with each team moving on 7 times.

The Question Mark:

Tell us what you think, what are your predictions for Habs-Rangers, who is the series MVP and who is the Little Bear unsung hero?

Let us know what you think, leave a comment or send us a tweet using the #MTLHockey hashtag on Twitter.

The Montreal Hockey Talk Pregame Show starts an hour before puck drop, join the live conversation by using the #MTLHockey hashtag on Twitter. And don’t miss the Post Game Show starting 5 minutes after the final siren.


I want a Pacioretty hat-trick! Lets do this!

You'd Still lose by TWO dude, 7-2 Rangers, wrahaha Worst news possible, the collision Price had with Kreider damaged his ankle, Out for the rest of the playoffs!!

I am almost happy Price is out, I really didnt want to be embarrassed by the likes of Chicago or L.A, who have far superior talent. Wasn't Kreider the player Timmins passed up a few years ago for Louis Leblanc. Yikes!!

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