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Where Did That Come from? New York Rangers Pummel Montreal 7-2, Seize 1-0 Series Lead

May 17th, 2014 at 5:48 PM
By Ricky Cibrano

Poll any national panel of experts heading into this series, and they would've agreed uniformly on one thing: it would be low scoring. Apparently no one told the Rangers.

The Blueshirts thrashed the stunned Canadian's by a final count of 7-2 in game 1 of the Eastern Conference Finals, rendering the normally boisterous Montreal crowd mute — save for a few boos. The Rangers dominated the opening frame, and lead 2-0 after one on goals by Martin St. Louis — of course — and Mats Zuccarello, both set up Dominic Moore. Rene Bourque made it a game in the second — a period Montreal controlled — trimming the Blueshirts lead to one, but Chris Kreider and Brad Richards scored 49 seconds apart late in the frame, effectively ending this one early. 

  • The garbage time tally read 3-1 Blueshirts, but one of those three was a biggie — the stars, sun, and moon all aligned perfectly, and Rick Nash, in his 15th playoff game, finally erased the goose egg in his goal column. The hope is big 61 — who undoubtedly has been squeezing the stick a bit too tight in the playoffs — got the monkey off his back and will now turn his postseason around.
  • Montreal struggled to contain the Rangers speed. When the Blueshirts were able to gain the attacking blueline with a head of steam, they controlled the game and gave the Canadians fits. In the second, that changed briefly — the Habs were able to force the Rangers to play more of a dump and chase game, and that tilted the ice in the other direction. 
  • Chris Kreider was a force. The Habs had no answer when he shifted into top gear — as evidenced by both his goal and semi-breakway, which resulted in the winger careening into Carey Price. The Boston College product did have one glaring turnover in the first in the neutral zone, but when he gets moving north-south, he's awfully difficult to stop.
  • Ryan McDonagh played far and away his best game of the postseason. He used his speed to lead the rush, was unafraid to pinch, and was rewarded with four points. The extra rest between series' appears to have done him some good, as does the fact that against Montreal, there's no major defensive matchup McDonagh has to worry about, which perhaps in his mind freed him up to jump into the play a bit more.
  • Conversely, P.K. Subban did not have one of his better performances. P.K. was erratic — dangerous at times, error prone at others. He turned the puck over several times, was beaten by Kreider down the wing once, and threw in a couple of icings for good measure.
  • St. Louis, Zuccarello, and Dominic Moore all played well. St. Louis appeared fired up from the start, Zuccarello was his normal self (3 points, several deft passes), and Moore showcased some of his skill in Derick Brassard's absence.
  • Henrik Lundqvist was outstanding in the second, when Montreal put together a strong surge. For his efforts, the Blueshirts gave him the rest of the game off.
  • Brassard said he is day-to-day. The injury does not appear to be serious, but he is a question mark for Monday. If he can't go, the Rangers' best option may be to insert J.T. Miller into the lineup centering Zuccarello and Pouliot — Moore, as the one player on the fourth line capable of handling the puck, is too valuable to that unit to promote.
  • Michel Therrien said of Carey Price being lifted: "The fact that he didn't play in the third period, that was more to protect him than anything." Protect him from what? Further injury? Getting shelled? Have to think the Habs coach was being purposely vague. That being said, it did not appear that Price was seriously injured when Kreider collided with him, but who knows. Having to start Peter Budaj for any amount of time would be devastating for Montreal.
Tags: Carey Price, Chris Kreider, Derick Brassard, Hockey, Martin St. Louis, Mats Zuccarello, New York, New York Rangers, NHL, P.K. Subban, Rick Nash, Ryan McDonagh

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