The playoffs start tonight and with that we all have our own predictions. The EOTP team reveals their own thoughts on the Canadiens-Rangers series.
The Rangers either show up and dominate before you know what's happening, or they'll get run out of the game without much effort. Montreal holds a major statistical advantage in most metrics, and were much better in their head-to-head series. While the New York Rangers are great on the power play it seems that Montreal's penalty kill under Julien can match it. Carey Price is better than Henrik Lundqvist, and that is the final trump card. With that you have the makings of a quick series win for the Canadiens. Montreal in five.
Carey Price is feeling it, and he senses this team is playing well enough and is healthy enough to go deep. Lundqvist will steal one in Madison Square Garden, but otherwise their defence isn't going to be good enough. Galchenyuk scores five, gets permanently assigned to the fourth line because he does so well. At least one goal off of a Lundqvist puck handling misplay. And Tanner Glass will score a shitty, meaningless goal in a loss that will drive Rangers fans nuts because the old-school will use it as a justification for his spot in the lineup. Montreal in five.
Pacioretty shows he is a playoff performer, Carey Price does Carey Price things, Lehkonen is a surprising hero and Galchenyuk is a key piece to any run the Montreal Canadiens have.
Price will get one shutout in game four. Gallagher gets on a hot streak in the playoffs. Weber scores overtime winner in game 2, Canadiens in six.
Shea Weber injures one person seriously with a slap shot.
Alex Galchenyuk, Artturi Lehkonen, and Andrew Shaw will be among Montreal’s biggest contributors of the series, whether they play together or apart.
The Byron-Plekanec-Gallagher line will be the difference maker. Montreal in five.
In a series against the New York Rangers I believe Carey Price is going to steal at least two games, stepping into the spotlight and doing what he does best. Benefiting from a fresh start after the regular season, I suspect Alexander Radulov and Alex Galchenyuk will find ways to score and be exciting. Having finished the season with a hot hand, Artturi Lehkonen shouldn't surprise anyone anymore, but his playoff performance with Frölunda was incredible to watch, and he's probably got another gear to show us in April. Brendan Gallagher will get in more trouble in New York's crease than Chris Kreider will in Montreal's. Montreal's defence is going to show us a hidden gem - someone is going to step up and play beyond what we all thought capable and thus shake up the depth chart. Canadiens in five.
Price will allow four goals against the entire series, he will also get one shutout. The best goal scorer is going to be Artturi Lehkonen.
Pacioretty will be the Habs' leading goal scorer in the series, followed closely by Galchenyuk. Weber and Markov will combine to make Kreider a non-issue. Price will manage at least one shutout, in MSG no less. Montreal in five.
The Montreal Canadiens find themselves coming into the playoffs almost entirely healthy and with momentum, three scoring lines, and a chameleon fourth line that can take on any form with a rotation of skill ranging from elite shooting skill (Galchenyuk), to shutdown defence (Mitchell), to hard-hitting (McCarron and Martinsen), to punch-you-in-the-face (Ott). The Rangers are top heavy in their line-up, but the defensive zone is questionable, especially Lundqvist who has been shaky against the Canadiens this season. I think that the Rangers have more question marks than the Habs going into this series, and therefore I call Canadiens in six.
A lot has changed since the Canadiens fell the to Rangers in the 2014 Eastern Conference Final. The Canadiens are a much stronger, more organized team and with two more years of experience that saw them go through highs to extreme lows, and a coaching change that seems to have encompassed all the negativity this team survived over that time into an armour and hard-working attitude that have made the Habs into a formidable, adaptable opponent.
The Rangers were one of nine teams to record over 100 points this season, so they are by no means an easy opponent. They are fast, play an effective and disciplined system and are one of the best coached teams in the league. Still, I believe the Canadiens are built and battle-tested to take this series in five games.
Pacioretty will be our top scorer and Radulov will have the most assists. By game three at the latest they will have Galchenyuk back on one of the top two lines (this one could just be wishful thinking). I anticipate one "what are you doing, Shaw?" moment, and one attempted murder of Brendan Gallagher. Weber's injury tally will be two, one Ranger and one Hab (hopefully this will not be related to the attempted murder of Gallagher). I'm going to say there's a 23% chance Carey takes down Kreider. Montreal in five games.
Being surrounded by a Henrik Lundqvist-favouring Swedish media has caused me to develop a healthy respect for former Frölunda goalie Henrik Lundqvist, but I still think there will be another Frölunda player that will steal the limelight; I predict that the form of playoff fever that Artturi Lehkonen possesses will hit him again. l'Arttiste will go on another tear in the playoffs. He has been best or second best scorer on his team last two seasons in the SHL, and it will be the same thing this series. Still with the healthy respect for Mr. Lundqvist I say Montreal in six. (Please, I can’t handle another game seven this season!)