Unless the hockey gods decide to totally abandon the Canadiens, the series with the New York Rangers is going to be a long one,
Carey Price and Henrik Lundqvist will ensure that.
The Rangers got the first period lead despite being outplayed and outshot 16-5. Playing with the lead is one of the reasons the Rangers were one of the best road teams in the entire league this season.
What turned out to be the winning goal of the game came off a Tomas Plekanec faceoff loss and a seeing eye backhand over the glove of Carey Price. It was the Rangers third shot of the game halfway through the first period.
Lundqvist did the rest and was named the game’s first star. Carey Price was almost as good, especially in the second and third period when the Canadiens were outshot 26-15. Ultimately, the Canadiens didn’t show much offensive finish and the result, with the empty net goal was a 2-0 opening game loss.
Faceoffs again became an issue for the Canadiens. The winning goal came when Plekanec failed to get control in his own end and Tanner Glass hoisted the puck past Price. Put the blame on a lack of faceoff support than anything Plekanec did. Little things mean a lot at this time of the year when games are consistently decided by one goal.
JACKED UP –
This was not a good night for the Plekanec/Byron/Gallagher line, especially Brendan Gallagher who seemed to play like a kid on a sugar rush. Along with the fact that he didn’t produce a shot on goal he also picked up two penalties, the second of which put the Canadiens two men short for almost a minute. The Canadiens are looking for offense from the line. Out against the Stepan/Kreider/Zuccarello most of the night, the line managed one shot on goal. Some credit though to Paul Byron who led both teams with seven hits.
NO FINISH –
Claude Julien mentioned in his post game news conference that his team lacked finish and could have been more aggressive going after loose pucks.
Good point. In the third period, trailing 1-0 they managed only six shots and with the game still on the line, only two shots over the last eight minutes. Give the Rangers some credit for that, but, as Julien mentioned, the Canadiens needed to be hungrier.
….The Canadiens recorded 53 of the 98 hits in the game. Marc Bergevin was looking for size and presence heading into the playoffs when he acquired forwards Dwight King, Steve Ott and Andreas Martinsen at the deadline. Together they contributed 13 of them. I can’t imagine seeing a lot of goals from the three of them, but they keep opponents honest.
….Galchenyuk on the fourth line isn’t much different than Galcheyuk on one of the top lines. Too much floating. While linemates Ott and Martinsen were hitting anything that moved, Galchenyuk didn’t hit a soul and contributed little.
….Seems strange to me that Andrew Shaw led the Canadiens forward in ice time at 19:03, almost a minute more than Max Pacioretty. Shaw was on ice for 3:30 of the 4:54 Canadiens power play time. Is that the Julien’s best option? Apparently he thinks so.
….Canadiens penalty killing has been the best in the league since Julien took over the team. It was very good again against the Rangers, especially for that minute when they were two-men down in the third period.
MOVING ON –
Game two at the Bell Centre Friday night. Look for more of the same. Close checking. Great goaltending and a low score. After Friday it’s Madison Square Garden for Sunday and Tuesday.