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Canadiens @ Rangers: Game preview, start time, Tale of the Tape, and how to watch

The Habs look to make it two out of two in the Big Apple as they head downtown to Madison Square Garden.

NHL: New York Rangers at Montreal Canadiens Jean-Yves Ahern-USA TODAY Sports

Montreal Canadiens @ New York Rangers

How to watch

Puck drop: 7:00 PM EST / 4:00 PM PST
In the Canadiens region: TSN2, TSN Direct (English), RDS (French)
In the Rangers region: MSG
Elsewhere: NHL Live

After a humbling experience against a seasoned Tampa Bay Lightning squad, the Canadiens headed into the Barclays Center on Monday night seeking a better effort and a better result. For 30 minutes, the Habs were mired in a malaise, overthinking their actions and generally lacking any of the aggression that had brought them such early season success.

A Max Domi powerplay tally late in the second period changed all that, and a spirited start to the third was rewarded with Artturi Lehkonen’s second goal of the season, bringing the Habs back to parity with the Islanders and eventually earning the squad a point. Fellow Finns Antti Niemi and Joel Armia would take care of the other one in the shootout.

Tonight, the Habs head across the Brooklyn Bridge into downtown Manhattan for a showdown with their Original Six rivals, the New York Rangers. After a seven-year period where the Rangers were perennial Eastern Conference contenders, the Blueshirts took a heavy step back last season, one that would cost head coach Alain Vigneault his job.

Tale of the Tape

Canadiens Statistic Rangers
Canadiens Statistic Rangers
8-4-2 Record 6-7-1
2-1-0 H2H Record (17-18) 1-2-0
53.8% (6th) Corsi-for pct. 47.3% (24th)
43 (16th) Goals for 35 (28th)
40 (14th) Goals against 44 (21st)
15.4% (25th) PP% 18.6% (19th)
81.3% (12th) PK% 76.1% (24th)
W•L•W•L•W Form L•L•W•W•W

The Rangers made it their offseason objective to get younger and faster, and new bench boss David Quinn entered the 2018-19 campaign with an average roster age of 27.7 years—a full year younger than Vigneault’s charges the year prior. With long-time captain Ryan McDonaugh in Tampa Bay and prized UFA signing Kevin Shattenkirk struggling mightily, the Blueshirts’ blueline is now headed by 23-year-old Brady Skjei, whose potential was rewarded last offseason with a 6-year contract with an AAV of $5.25 million. Skjei is supported by controversial rookie Anthony DeAngelo, who has dazzled since his insertion into the lineup with four points in six games.

Up front, Vladislav Namestnikov, the prize of the McDonaugh trade, has not managed to reproduce his success in Tampa Bay. Instead, the Rangers have been led by more familiar faces—Mats Zuccarello (5G, 6A), Mika Zibanejad (3G, 7A), and the Canadiens’ old friend Chris Kreider (6G, 3A).

There was much talk last season about whether Henrik Lundqvist had lost a step. The long-time Ranger netminder posted his second consecutive season with a save percentage under .920 (after seven consecutive seasons over that mark). Lundqvist has apparently taken that talk to heart, as his save percentage so far this season stands at .923 and his Goals Saved Above Average is already 5.46—putting him as a top 5 starting goaltender in the NHL. Despite Lundqvist’s superlative performances, the Rangers have been porous both in terms of allowing shots and chances, resulting in Lundqvist’s W-L record being a mere 4-6-1.

After starting the season in a manner befitting of a team in a rebuild, the Rangers have rebounded with three consecutive victories. That having been said, each of the wins were by one goal, and the first two came via the shootout. While the victories may require a grain of salt, the confidence coursing through the Rangers locker room is very much real. Of course, so is the confidence coursing through the Canadiens after snatching a well-earned victory away from the jaws of defeat against an Islanders team which had won five in a row prior to Monday night. Hopefully, it’ll be a show worthy of Broadway.