Besides Tanner Glass’s unlikely goal in the game’s opening frame, the Montreal Canadiens couldn’t have wished for a more dominant start than the one they rolled out in their first period of playoff hockey in 2017.
The Habs played that first period exactly as their pre-series scouting report would have suggested. They attacked with a steady forecheck, giving a defence already biased toward the dump-out even fewer opportunities to start a rush with a zone exit via pass or carry. For the most part, the Habs ate those dump-outs up, turning the puck back toward Henrik Lundqvist.
They couldn’t sustain that pressure over the final two periods, however, and as a result, find themselves down in this series heading into game two. If they’re looking for opportunities to equalize, though, they should find that that first period offers a reliable blueprint.
How to watch
Puck drop: 7:00 PM EDT / 4:00 PM PDT
In Canada: CBC (English), TVAS (French)
In the United States: USA, MSG
Elsewhere: NHL.tv/NHL Gamecentre Live, NHL Center Ice
Tale of the Tape
|52.73||Score-adjusted Corsi %||48.13|
|1.19||5v5 Goal Ratio||1.08|
*All statistics include only the 2016-17 regular season.
Blueprint in hand, presumably, it’ll be up to Claude Julien to determine what led a team that so thoroughly controlled period one of game one to put forth such a flat, lifeless effort in period two. To answer that question, he likely needs to look no further than some crippling defensive zone gaffes.
The Rangers never really got their transition game going, but they didn’t have to. Whether it was an uncharacteristic error by Carey Price handling the puck, or more likely, the total lack of cohesion between the Beaulieu-Nesterov-Galchenyuk-Ott-Martinsen quintet that led to the puck staying in the Montreal zone, the Blueshirts feasted when the Habs needlessly extended their offensive zone time.
If there’s been one clearly visible improvement on the ice made during Julien’s short time with the Canadiens so far, it’s been his team’s efficiency in exiting their own zone. Lineup changes or not, the Habs need to find that efficiency tonight and going forward.
Otherwise, there’s plenty to be optimistic about. Shea Weber and Andrei Markov played dominantly as the first pairing, while Jordie Benn acquitted himself well in his first postseason contest as a Hab. Benn and Jeff Petry did an excellent job of keeping Michael Grabner and Rick Nash out of sight, while Weber and Markov mostly neutralized Mats Zuccarello and Chris Kreider. If the Rangers most efficient offensive trio continues to be Oscar Lindberg, Jesper Fast, and Tanner Glass, the Canadiens should likely consider themselves to be in a very good position to have success in this series.
It wasn’t the start they wanted, and it certainly wasn’t pretty, but game one illustrated that the Canadiens have a recipe for success. With fewer mistakes in their own end, and a little more finish in the other one, the Habs should be able to translate a dominant first period on Wednesday into a dominant game on Friday.
And with that bit of luck, this series will head to New York a best-of-five instead of a best-of-seven.