The Good, Bad, and Ugly - Playoff Edition: Round Three, Game Two
By Mitch Melnick
TSN 690 and MitchMelnick.com
Dustin Tokarski gained plenty of attention Monday due to the news that Montreal Canadiens' goaltender Carey Price will be shelved for the remainder of the Eastern Conference Finals. Although he played well, Tokarski was unable to help his team to a victory over the New York Rangers in game two of their third round series.
Montreal - May 20, 2014 - Here's a challenge: Outline a scenario in which you can see the Montreal Canadiens - minus Carey Price - winning four out of five from the NY Rangers.
Unless Ryan McDonagh and Henrik Lundqvist collide head on during the pre-game warm up for game three.
• P.K. Subban. Forget the -2. Subban was all over the ice. Played nearly 30:00. Fired 9 shots on goal (another 6 shots were blocked). Led rush after rush in the third period. It seemed at times like he was the only Montreal player on the ice. But I'm sure somebody at Hockey Night In Canada found reason to dump on him.
• Brendan Gallagher. While some of his older and bigger teammates have vanished Gallagher has actually raised the level of his game. Maybe he can take some of his teammates back to B.C. with him for the summer to work out.
• Max Pacioretty. Only player to beat Henrik Lundqvist - and it was a gift. Not that he didn't work it for it. The Habs are going to have to get more bodies in front of the Rangers goaltender. Duh. But how often did you see him straining to see the puck? The Canadiens are making it way too easy for him. Tuukka Rask (Vezina Trophy winner you say?) was very beatable in the last series. Now the Habs are running into a wall.
• David Desharnais. Real good night for Montreal's number one line as they caused a lot of havoc inside the Rangers blue line. This was very much like the Desharnais we saw in game seven in Boston.
• Andrei Markov & Alexei Emelin. Much better following their nightmarish performance in game one.
• Rene Bourque. Really liked his game. Looks like he's totally healthy again. By far the best player on his line.
• Dustin Tokarski. Hadn't played since April 19. Can't be faulted for the loss. Second goal against him by Rick Nash late in the first period was a backbreaker - a shot that Carey Price likely stops. Handled the situation about the best he could. What else can you ask for?
• Michel Therrien. Personally I would have started Peter Budaj ( 3-1 lifetime vs NYR with a shutout and a .921 save percentage) and moved to Tokarski in New York. But I totally get what Therrien and his staff (especially Stephan Waite) were trying to do. The chances of the Canadiens beating a Rangers team on the kind of roll they're currently on - without Price - are slim anyway. Budaj might get you a win. But not a series. So see if Tokarski can perform some kind of minor miracle. Overall, Therrien had his team ready to play. They dominated much of the first period. He struck the right notes in public, echoing his players feelings about the Kreider collision with Price ("It was reckless...he has a history with goaltenders") while also sending a not so subtle message to NHL officials. And in his post - game comments Therrien rightfully noted that momentum in a series can change in a hurry. After all, wasn't it just three days ago when a Stanley Cup Final appearance by the Canadiens seemed like a real possibility?
• Thomas Vanek. Zero shots on goal. Unacceptable for a goal scorer. I'll give him a pass on his breakaway when he attempted a drop pass to Alex Galchenyuk. Galchenyuk was covered but only because he had been interfered with seconds earlier, otherwise it would have been a gorgeous empty netter and the Bell Centre would have gone nuts. Took a stupid penalty to wipe out a Montreal power play when he delivered a nasty slash to McDonagh. If you're gonna slash and go to the box, take a finger with you.
• Penalties. Vanek and Lars Eller both took penalties 200 feet from their own net. And Subban punching Derek Stepan to the ice was another bad one.
• Tripping call on Galchenyuk that led to Martin St. Louis's goal eight minutes into the third. Ridiculous call by Dan "Fuck Off" O'Halloran, especially after the Rangers had just taken a legit scoring chance away from Vanek/Galchenyuk. Mike Weaver skated up to O'Halloran after the goal while Therrien refused to send his players out for the ensuing face-off until O'Halloran threatened to call a bench minor.
• Brian Gionta. Is the captain injured or tired or both? He's been bad. Cannot handle the puck properly which makes me think he has some kind of hand injury. Too many icings. None of his shots are difficult. And he got caught pinching along the boards after the Habs lost an offensive zone face off sending the Rangers away on a 3 on 2 which Nash converted with just 1:02 to play in the first period.
• Tomas Plekanec. Not good.
• Josh Gorges. On the ice for all three goals against.
• Special Teams. Rangers scored another power play goal (how do you leave St. Louis alone in the slot?) while the Habs went 0-4 on the power play and are now 0-7 in the series.
• Chris Kreider. Jittery early on but managed to have a say in the outcome as he fed Nash for the game winner. Can you imagine if John Ferguson was in this game - or Chris Nilan? The only guy to nail Kreider was Gionta - and Kreider was already down on the ice after ducking another hit.
• Three Stars. Here we are again. Lundqvist makes 40 saves but is the 2nd star. McDonagh - ignored in the opener even though he had a 4 point afternoon - was named the first star.
• Ryan McDonagh. Six points in two games. This is sick. Just when you had finally moved on from perhaps the worst trade in Canadiens history.
• Benoit Pouliot. The king of the dumb penalty in the NHL was at it again late in the game when he hit Emelin into the boards from behind to give Montreal a 6 on 4 advantage (after Tokarski was pulled) for the full two minutes. Habs fired blanks but Pouliot gave them some life. He'll do it again in New York.
• Stephen Harper. Go bug the Leafs.
• Montreal's first shift of game three. It could be.
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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