Montreal needed to put forth a better effort in Game 2 if they hoped to take home a win, and scoreline aside they did just that.
Photo credit: Extra Skater (all situations)
Unfortunately despite controlling the puck for the majority of the game, Henrik Lundqvist was in top form, stopping absolutely everything he could see. He did give up some rebounds, but Montreal was unable to capitalize on any of them, as the Rangers defencemen did a good job boxing out any forwards that neared the crease.
Pacioretty's goal was definitely a little lucky:
Was Tokarski the right choice?
The panel on Hockey Night in Canada were incredibly harsh towards Dustin Tokarski, claiming that it was probably a mistake to have given him the start, but I beg to differ. Dustin Tokarski was clearly not the issue in game two, despite being beat three times.
There was this deflection goal which Glenn Healy blamed on Tokarski's blocker-side weakness. It's incredible how little an ex-goalie comprehends about the game of hockey, and specifically the goaltender position.
Explain to me how this was Tokarski's fault:
I have a theory that if the CBC offered a pay-only feed that muted Glenn Healy they would have accumulated enough money this off-season and wouldn't have lost the hockey rights in Canada.
The go-ahead goal that Rick Nash scored could have been saved, although there was a lack of hustle when it came to the forwards back checking to nullify the odd-man rush, as well as some poor defensive coverage by Gorges.
The final goal was scored by Martin St.Louis during the powerplay on a perfect shot. Once again it's exceedingly difficult to blame the young netminder on this play, as there are few goalies in the NHL that could have made the save.
What changes need to be done?
First of all it's fairly obvious that Brandon Prust is playing hurt. He's not helping the team win, and if we're being perfectly honest he's probably helping them lose. Michael Bournival needs to be re-inserted into the lineup to try to counter the Rangers relentless speed.
Vanek continues to show us a confusing style of play. The coach keeps telling us he's not injured, which means that either they're hiding an injury or Thomas Vanek has already mentally checked out of the playoffs. He's not shooting, making passes or deking whatsoever. He's scared of the puck, which doesn't bode well for Montreal's anemic offense so far in the third round.
Therrien doesn't need to overhaul his roster, as Game 2 was genuinely a great effort. The Pacioretty-DD-Gallagher line was on fire, as was the Bourque-Eller-Gionta line.
Unfortunately the fourth line got torched; however, replacing Prust with Bournival should stop the bleeding.
As for the Galchenyuk-Plekanec-Vanek line, I believe it needs a little more time to adjust. The issue being, of course, there's no time left to adjust.
After receiving the vast majority of the bounces in the first two rounds, Montreal found themselves with a lack of puck luck in Game 2.
Budaj or Tokarski in Game 3?
I don't think it matters all that much to be perfectly honest. Tokarski had a decent game, and doesn't necessarily deserve to sit during Game 3, however Therrien had no reason to sit Budaj in Game 2, except for playing a hunch. I can't blame him, as series have been won or lost on a hot goalie, and in my opinion Tokarski is a little more likely to catch fire than Budaj.
If Montreal puts forth the same kind of effort they produced in Game 2, they'll have a very good chance at taking home both games in New York.
With a little more puck luck and some timely saves, Montreal can get right back into this series, meaning that there's no reason to panic just yet.
However they'll have to find a way to beat Lundqvist. He's playing incredibly well, and shots from 40 feet probably won't beat him. Montreal tried beating Lundqvist high on several occasions, but demonstrated the accuracy of a blind stormtrooper whenever a high scoring chance presented itself.
The only player creating a plethora of traffic in front of the Swedish goalie was the diminutive Brendan Gallagher, as is tradition.
If you keep all the emotion in the equation, it seems like a cruel fate to lose your starting goaltender in Game 1 of the conference finals, and then proceed to outplay your opponents only to lose due to the opposing goaltender playing lights out, but such is the reality of NHL playoffs.
There is no more Carey Price crutch to lean on, and Montreal will have to continue to outplay the Rangers by a wide margin if they're going to cut the series deficit in half on Thursday.
Of course, a little more puck luck would go a long way. However let's be clear: Montreal can't count on luck to win Game 3. Only a sustained effort and determination will get the job done.