The Stanley Cup Playoffs get under way tonight, and the Montreal Canadiens will open things up on home ice as they host their first-round opponent: the New York Rangers.
Coming into this game with plenty of momentum are the Habs, having won six of their previous eight games. There was a moment of concern yesterday when Max Pacioretty left practice with an injury, though Claude Julien has been optimistic about his captain’s chances to play this evening.
It’s the Canadiens who hold the advantage when looking back at the season series between the two clubs, as the Rangers failed to win a single time in three attempts. As always, the playoffs are a different beast, but there is plenty of reason for the Habs to be a confident squad heading into this series, and into tonight’s game.
How to watch
Puck drop: 7:00 PM EDT / 4:00 PM PDT
In Canada: CBC (English), TVAS (French)
In the United States: NBCSN, MSG
Elsewhere: NHL.tv/NHL Gamecentre Live, NHL Center Ice
Tale of the Tape
|52.64||Score-Adjusted Corsi %||48.08|
|1.18||5v5 Goal Ratio||1.09|
The final stretch of the season was not kind to the Rangers, who dropped seven of their last 10 games to close out the calendar. They were, like the Habs, victorious in their final game of the season however, overcoming the Pittsburgh Penguins by a single goal.
New York boasts an offence that has put up impressive numbers as a team this season, but they have, at times, struggled to keep the puck out of their net. They’re a high-event team with often high-scoring games, which, in this series, might favour the Habs. Henrik Lundqvist hasn’t been having his best year, and has historically struggled against the Canadiens, taking away what is typically an edge for the Blueshirts.
Of course, it’s going to be a high-profile goalie matchup, and all eyes will be on Chris Kreider and Carey Price. Few in Montreal have forgotten the injury Kreider dealt Price a couple of years ago, and you can be certain the Habs’ blue line is well aware of the history.
All told, four members of the New York Rangers tallied more than fifty points this season compared to just two for the Habs. The likes of Mats Zuccarello and J.T. Miller have given opposing defences fits this season, and will certainly make things difficult on a Habs’ defence that was a little banged up to end the season.
It isn’t your typical opponent for a division winner, as the Rangers finished just a point behind the Habs in the standings. All things considered, it may just be one of the more favourable matchups. It’s a league of parity now, and as they say, once you make it in anything can happen. The Stanley Cup Playoffs begin, finally, tonight.