1. Not good enough from the Habs
Unfortunately, a return to home ice wasn’t quite enough to energize the Canadiens for Game 5. After a slow start, Andrew Shaw dropped the gloves with Brendan Smith, and then Artturi Lehkonen went into beast mode and left Marc Staal wondering what happened.
Lehkonen stole the puck, created a scoring chance, got his own rebound and out muscled his coverage to score.— Marc Dumont (@MarcPDumont) April 20, 2017
Playoffs performer. pic.twitter.com/A4jVqJtr3k
The Habs kept up the pace into the second, but then they didn’t record an official SOG until 10:13 into the third. And the Montreal crowd was more invested in OT than the team, for sure. The Rangers absolutely dominated, and the Canadiens just let them.
2. Good to see the penalty kill is still clicking.
They haven’t given up a power play goal all series (even though they’ve given the Rangers fifteen opportunities). Habs did give up a shorthanded goal in the first, but later in the same power play, Brendan Gallagher wired one past Henrik Lundqvist to go up 2-1. It was the Canadiens’ third PPG of the series (18.8%), and Gallagher’s first goal of the postseason, though not for lack of trying. Of the series’ shots leaders, only Rick Nash (20 SOG) had a goal coming into Game 5. This was Brendan Gallagher’s first, after 18 shots on goal, and Max Pacioretty has registered a series-high 24 shots, but they just aren’t going in. That will probably need to change, if the Habs are going to win the next two.
3. This series isn’t as notably brutal as some, but that doesn’t mean it hasn’t gotten nasty.
Highlights from Game 5 include...mostly just Mats Zuccarello using his stick to hit things that are not a hockey puck. Notably, Brendan Gallagher’s ribs (not his hand, don’t worry) and Paul Byron’s face. But there have been some brutal hits thrown on both ends of the ice, and more than a couple of non-calls. Such is playoff hockey, of course, but that doesn’t make it any less frustrating.
Gallagher wasn't hit in the hand, so that's good news. pic.twitter.com/DcuDmX7IQr— Marc Dumont (@MarcPDumont) April 20, 2017
4. Goaltending continues to be a highlight of this series.
Fans are getting their money’s worth from these world-class netminders, despite some uncertainty about Lundqvist in the regular season. But whereas the defensively questionable Rangers may not have a choice but to rely on frequent heroics from King Henrik, the Canadiens are capable of providing more support for Carey Price. They haven’t exactly hung him out to dry in this series, but with all the posts the Habs are hitting, something has got to give.
5. The Habs are going to need more scoring.
Pacioretty or Shaw getting a bounce or two could go a long way in that department, but the rest of the team needs to revisit the life they showed in Game 2. A late switch on the right side--trading Lehkonen for Alexander Radulov--didn’t hurt anything, and it would be interesting to see more of Radulov with Alex Galchenyuk (and maybe even Pacioretty?!) in Game 6. But a temporary lineup change wasn’t enough for Montreal to control the pace later in the game, and it likely won’t be enough to take back the series if they just can’t get the goals. Maybe everyone should just pass to Lehkonen. Or perhaps some of that vaunted playoff experience that was acquired over the course of the year can finally pay off for Marc Bergevin.