Apr 12, 2014; Montreal, Quebec, CAN; New York Rangers goalie Cam Talbot (33) makes a save against Montreal Canadiens center Tomas Plekanec (14) as defenseman Raphael Diaz (4) defends during the second period at Bell Centre. Mandatory Credit: Jean-Yves Ahern-USA TODAY Sports

Montreal Canadiens - New York Rangers Series Preview

After dispatching one original 6 rival in round 2, the Montreal Canadiens line up against another when they take to the ice for the Eastern Conference Final.

SEASON SERIES

Montreal won the season series 2 games to 1, but each one was extremely close, low scoring and tight checking.  There were only 4 goals total scored in total, with 1 game (the final game of the season) going to overtime.  Each game ended in a shutout, with Price, Cam Talbot and Peter Budaj recording the goose-eggs.

 

THE MATCHUPS

Goaltending

This is the first time these two goalies have gone head to head in NHL action this season, but it is not the first time they have stared each other down.  Carey Price got the better of his Swedish counterpart Henrik Lundqvist in the Gold Medal game at the Winter Olympics. Price got the better of that matchup, but this is a different situation in a different locale.

Price was spectacular in beating the Bruins, while Lundqvist was equal to the task in bouncing the Penguins. There isn’t much to choose between the two.

Defense

P.K. Subban has taken his game to a new level in the playoffs, and leads all blueliners in scoring while also being the top point producer on the Canadiens.

Ryan McDonagh got off to a slow start and struggled in the first round, but seemed to get back to form and leads the New York Rangers.

Offense

The top lines for these teams have shouldered a lot of criticism for lack of production.  The Habs top unit of David Desharnais, Max Pacioretty and Thomas Vanek hasn’t contributed much offensively at even strength, and timely scoring by Dale Weise, Daniel Briere and Brendan Gallagher has carried the team.

The Rangers have got almost nothing from stars Rick Nash and Derek Stepan, but Brad Richards, Martin St. Louis and Mats Zuccarello have picked up the slack.

Special Teams

Montreal’s power play was a key factor in beating the Bruins, and are now clicking at over 26%, while the Rangers play with the man advantage has been less than impressive, barely over 11%.

Both teams could use some improvement on the penalty kill, with average production, hovering around the 80-83% range, although Montreal does have 1 shorthanded goal to its credit.

 

PREDICTION

I didn’t think there was any way the Montreal Canadiens could get by the Big, Bad Bruins.  I was proven wrong and impressed by how they used their speed to counter the Bruins forecheck.  The Rangers were impressive in beating the Penguins, but they have played a lot of hockey (2 series going the distance) and that will begin to take its toll. As much as it pains me to say it…

HABS  in 6

 

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Tags: Carey Price Habs Henrik Lundqvist Rangers Series Preview

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