A goal by former Canadien Dominic Moore at 18:07 of the second period was all it took to wrap up the Eastern Conference final as the New York Rangers recorded a 1-0 victory at Madison Square Garden Thursday night.
Henrik Lundqvist had little work in recording the shutout. The Rangers outshot the Canadiens 32-18.
They will now have five days off before they start their quest for a first Stanley Cup in 20 years against either the Los Angeles Kings or Chicago Black Hawks. That series continues Friday night with Los Angeles leading 3-2 in the Western Conference final.
Adding It Up
Hindsight – The Canadiens made it hard on themselves starting with the series opener. Still basking in the glory of their upset win over Boston, they failed to show up at home for Game one and the Rangers buried them 7-2 at the same time knocking Carey Price out for the duration. The Rangers then stole Game Two and from there the climb proved to be too steep.
Gassed – The Canadiens defense had nothing left. After playing over half of both Games 4 & 5 P.K. Subban had no legs. ion this game he logged 27:04. Same thing with Andrei Markov. The Rangers took full advantage with a strong forecheck that backed the Canadiens deep in their own end all night.
Up Front – The Canadiens forwards also had little to offer. They managed only six scoring chances the entire game. In the first ten minutes of the game when it was important to set the tone, the Canadiens were outshot 10 -1 and the scoring chances were 5-0 for New York. In the first 12 minues of the third period when the Habs desperately needed some pushback, the shots were 8-2 and the scoring chances were 6-0 for the Rangers.
The Game Winner – The Ranger forecheck allowed them to set up a cycle game for which the Canadiens had no answer. Late in the second period the fourth line pinned the Canadiens back for a full 45 seconds. In one corner Ryan McDonagh beat Markov to the puck, fed it to Brian Boyle behind the net who then sent it through the legs of a passive Francis Bouillon to Moore who had slipped alone into the slot. Little chance for Tokarski.
About The Kid – Rene Bourque had it right. Dustin Tokarski was a better goaltender in this series than Henrik Lundqvist. Of his five games, this may have been the best. 21 of the Rangers 32 shots were major scoring chances. He stopped all but one of them. Needless to say, he’s seen his last American Hockey league days and Peter Budaj will be moving on.
The Final Nail – The Canadiens opened the third period with a 1:13 power play. Not only did they not get a shot on goal, they failed to gain the Rangers zone. Their power play was the NHL’s worst from the middle of December. It had it’s moments in the playoffs but it’s going to be an off-season issue for the Habs front office.
Also Worth Mentioning – ….It may have been the fresh legs, but Alex Galchenyuk again supplied whatever spark the Habs showed in the game. The only scoring chance the Canadiens had in the first period came from Galchenyuk with eight seconds left. ….Thomas Vanek had a good two-way game but the suspicion is, he played the series with a wrist injury. Still, it was Vanek’s shot that forced Lundqvist to make the save of the game just 2 ½ minutes before the Rangers scored their goal. ….Did the Canadiens lack of size become the major issue as many seemed to predict it might? Interesting argument. The Canadien smaller players, Gallagher, Desharnais, Briere all had pretty good playoffs. Of that group, Briere was the best in this game. Desharnais and Gallagher didn’t show much, but the same can be said for some of the bigger players as well. . ….Under normal circumstances, Nathan Beaulieu would have found a seat on the bench early in the game. He was that overwhelmed. With his top four defensemen on the edge of exhaustion and the absence of Alexei Emelin, Michel Therrien had no choice but to use him. Beaulieu wound up with 22 mistake-filled shifts. (Need we mention, Beaulieu is now just 21 years old).
Summing It Up – The Canadiens pushed their playoff run to seventeen games. Many thought they wouldn’t get past the Tampa Bay Lightning. There will be changes. Free agents Brian Gionta, Thomas Vanek and Douglas Murray will be moving on. A trade is likely in the future for Peter Budaj. Francis Bouillon and George Parros will probably retire for varying reasons. Big decisions coming on free agents Andrei Markov and Mike Weaver. With a limited crop of free agent talent available, Marc Bergevin is going to have to get creative this summer.