The Good, Bad, and Ugly - Playoff Edition: Round Three, Game One
By Mitch Melnick
TSN 690 and MitchMelnick.com
A bittersweet moment captured for Marty St. Louis of the New York Rangers, as he celebrates scoring a goal the day before he lays his mother to rest. The veteran Ranger was one of many to solve Carey Price in yesterday afternoon's dominant 7-2 win over the Montreal Canadiens.
Montreal - May 18, 2014 - We got our asses kicked all over the ice - Rene Bourque
Try to look on the bright side.
Maybe it's all downhill for the Rangers after their 7-2 opening day whipping of the Habs at the Bell Centre. NewYork could not have possibly drawn up a more perfect scenario:
- Score the first goal
- Inspirational leader Marty St. Louis scores the day before his mother's funeral
- Take the Bell Centre crowd out early
- Score on the power play
- Rick Nash ends his playoff goalless drought
- Henrik Lundqvist exorcises his Montreal demons
The only down note to the Rangers win was centre Derrick Brassard getting knocked out of the game during his second shift when he was hit by Mike Weaver. Brassard clearly hurt his shoulder. But even then, former Hab Dominic Moore - and inspiring story in his own right (Moore's wife Cathy passed away last year at the age of 27) - slipped into Brassard's role seamlessly and help set up the first two New York goals.
Can the Rangers get better? They're riding a real high wave right now. Montreal has to figure out how to stop it before it reaches Lake Michigan or the California coast.
Meanwhile, the Habs are just thankful they're done with afternoon games (0-4 & outscored 16-7 in 2014). And wondering - does Chris Kreider fly by night?
• Lars Eller-Brian Gionta-Rene Bourque. Trio accounted for both Montreal goals. Bourque took two early penalties but made up for it in the second period when he cut into the Rangers two goal lead.
• Max Pacioretty. One of the few Habs who looked ready to play. Forced Lundqvist into his most difficult saves. But the Canadiens are going to have to do a better job of swarming the net in front of him.
• Mike Weaver - Nathan Beaulieu. Habs' third defense pair looked ok.
• Almost everybody. Andrei Markov and Alexei Emelin were terrible. Bad pinches, bad execution. And both looked very slow. Tomas Plekanec and Thomas Vanek looked like they had never played together. Early in the game, when it was still scoreless, Michael Bournival had an open path to the net down the left side but elected to pass to a well covered Vanek. It resulted in a turnover and moments later St. Louis beat Carey Price up high to set the tone for the afternoon. The Rangers transition game is much quicker than Boston's. It's up to Michel Therrien and his staff to adjust to this reality but at the same time - as Therrien alluded to post-game - no amount of adjustments will work if the players don't pay attention to detail. He was hopeful his team would be "more alert" in game two. Maybe they can start with stronger coffee.
• Special Teams. The Habs - with some help from former Ranger Brandon Prust - made a bad power play look like the Soviet Red Army team. What was a strong PK unit has suddenly dipped to just 75% in the post season, by far the worst of the 4 teams remaining (Chicago 91.3%; Rangers 84%; LA Kings 83.9%). And while Montreal had only one power play while the game was still close it was a timely one. Brian Boyle hauled down P.K. Subban behind the Montreal net just three minutes after Bourque's goal had narrowed the New York lead to 2-1. The Habs generated very little offense. It was Carey Price who provided the biggest lift when he got his glove on a Matt Zucherello shot after a feed from that guy Kreider on a two on one. Moments later Prust and Dale Weise broke in on a two on one the other way but Lundqvist grabbed Prust's slapper. Seventeen seconds later Kreider broke in alone after Emelin was caught napping and Daniel Briere inadvertantly chipped the puck to Rick Nash in the neutral zone. Nash then fed Kreider in full flight who finished the play - and ultimately the game - when he beat Price to the stick side.
• Ryan McDonagh has a four point afternoon but he's not named one of the three stars? Why bother naming 3 stars? Let's change the tradition and make it easier for the people who clearly struggle with this. One guy. Star of the game. C'est tout.
• Carey Price. Down on the ice. In obvious pain. You don't often see a player on a breakaway go into the net skates first. You can see Price grimace when his right pad gets caught behind the post after Kreider bowled into him. "It looked like an accident" said Therrien. Probably so. But maybe in game two Kreider gets introduced to P.K. Subban's backside. And maybe Alex Galchenyuk gets introduced to the 2014 playoffs.
Mitch Melnick is the host of Melnick in the Afternoon on TSN 690 - Montreal's Sports Authority. Mitch also has his own website at MitchMelnick.com where you can find his blog, music links, upcoming events, neat photos and more. Listen Live to Melnick - weekdays from 3:00 - 7:00 pm. If you have questions or wish to contact Mitch, you can email him at firstname.lastname@example.org
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