Wednesday, April 12, 2017

{allcanada} 5 Keys: Rangers at Canadiens, Game 1


MONTREAL -- The Montreal Canadiens host the New York Rangers in Game 1 of their Eastern Conference First Round Series at Bell Centre on Wednesday (7 p.m. ET; CBC, TVA Sports, NBCSN, MSG).

Here are 5 keys for Game 1:


1. Price vs. Lundqvist

Goaltenders Carey Price of the Canadiens and Henrik Lundqvist of the Rangers headline the marquee matchup of the 16th Stanley Cup Playoffs series between these two Original Six teams.

Price missed most of the Canadiens' previous playoff series against the Rangers with a knee injury sustained in Game 1 of the 2014 Eastern Conference Final, which New York won in six games. Price and Lundqvist each are capable of carrying their respective teams deep into the playoffs.

"We all know that both teams are facing good goaltenders so it's going to be important for us to find ways to get pucks past them," Canadiens coach Claude Julien said after an optional morning skate in Brossard, Quebec.


2. Managing Bell Centre fans

The Canadiens will have a capacity crowd squarely behind them when they take to the ice at Bell Centre on Wednesday. Montreal's fans will be amped up and the atmosphere will be charged at the drop of the puck.

The Rangers will take whatever opportunities they can to quiet the crowd and ward off the Canadiens' home-ice advantage. Montreal will face the challenges of focusing on its game plan and not getting carried away by the crowd's enthusiasm.

"They have speed, we have speed, you know, two great goaltenders, and it's definitely an interesting Original Six matchup," Canadiens left wing Alex Galchenyuk said. "So there's going to be a lot of excitement."


3. Feel the power

The Rangers' power play went 13-for-38 (34.2 percent) during New York's final 15 regular-season games. New York will have to make the most of its opportunities against Montreal, the least-penalized team in the NHL after Claude Julien took over as coach on Feb. 14.

Montreal's penalty-killers maintained an 88.4 percent success rate under Julien, who guided the Canadiens to a 16-7-1 finish after succeeding Michel Therrien.


4. Canadiens retooled for postseason

Defenseman Jordie Benn and forwards Dwight King, Steve Ott and Andreas Martinsen, each acquired by Montreal prior to the NHL Trade Deadline, will dress Wednesday. Their presence bolstered the Canadiens lineup and added depth, experience and grit to a roster general manager Marc Bergevin has made bigger and tougher.

"They've got some physical players," Rangers forward Tanner Glass told the New York Daily News after practice Tuesday. "Even the guys that aren't real big are pretty physical players, guys like [Brendan] Gallagher and [Andrew] Shaw. Those guys are physical players that invite conflict and confrontation."


5. Sharing the wealth

The Rangers roll four lines, contributing to an offense that ranked fourth in the League with 253 goals. Julien moved Galchenyuk onto the Canadiens' fourth line with Ott and Martinsen in a bid to spread out his offense.

"He's going to be playing against different [defensemen], he's going to be playing against different forwards," Shaw said of Galchenyuk. "I feel like he's going to have the puck a lot and that's something he's really good with. He makes plays, he's confident with the puck, he makes great moves, and it's going to free up some room for him out there."


Rangers projected lineup

Chris Kreider -- Derek Stepan -- Mats Zuccarello

Jimmy Vesey -- Mika Zibanejad -- Rick Nash

J.T. Miller -- Kevin Hayes -- Michael Grabner

Tanner Glass -- Oscar Lindberg -- Jesper Fast

Ryan McDonagh -- Dan Girardi

Marc Staal -- Nick Holden

Brady Skjei -- Brendan Smith

Henrik Lundqvist

Antti Raanta

Scratched: Adam Clendening, Kevin Klein, Steven Kampfer, Matt Puempel, Pavel Buchnevich

Injured: None


Canadiens projected lineup

Max Pacioretty -- Phillip Danault -- Alexander Radulov

Paul Byron -- Tomas Plekanec -- Brendan Gallagher

Dwight King -- Andrew Shaw -- Artturi Lehkonen

Alex Galchenyuk -- Steve Ott -- Andreas Martinsen

Andrei Markov -- Shea Weber

Jordie Benn -- Jeff Petry

Nathan Beaulieu -- Nikita Nesterov

Carey Price

Al Montoya

Scratched: Torrey Mitchell, Michael McCarron, Brian Flynn, Brandon Davidson

Injured: Alexei Emelin (undisclosed)


Status report

Raanta will back up Lundqvist despite missing what would have been his final start of the regular season against the Pittsburgh Penguins on Sunday because of a bone bruise to his right knee. "The doctors said nothing else could happen," Raanta told the New York Post. "Going to have to suck it up and play with the pain." ... Pacioretty took part in the morning skate and will play after taking a stick to the face during practice Tuesday.


Who's hot

Stepan had seven points (four goals, three assists) in his final eight regular-season games. ... Lehkonen had six points (four goals, two assists) in his last four regular-season games.

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