New York Rangers, Henrik Lundqvist Shine in Game 1 vs Montreal Canadiens

Arguably Montreal would have been better off finishing second in the Atlantic and avoiding NY in the first round of the Stanley Cup playoffs.

The expectation was that Montreal and NY would go toe to toe.

Lundqvist opened the playoffs by shutting out the Canadiens on Wednesday, stopping all 31 shots he faced. Since the arrival of Claude Julien as coach, the Canadiens are spending a lot less time in their own zone and they're attacking the puck with more gusto.

Game 2 is Friday in Minnesota. They have reached the playoffs for the seventh straight season. It's the first time the Habs and Blueshirts have met in the postseason since NY beat Montreal in six games in the 2014 Eastern Conference Finals. "I think we need some scoring from all the lines".

In other years this would be a No Worry issue for the Rangers.

To be expected, Henrik Lundqvist showed why he's called the King, even at 35 years old. While his play for the most part has been superior there have been erratic periods along the way. He made 31 saves in the game to earn the shutout.

Carey Price had another great season with a 37-20-5 record, 2.23 GAA and.923 save percentage. Whichever one is able to get their powerplay going is likely to win the series.

The Rangers advantage in the puck-stopping area is in the Back-up Department. "His focus and determination really fed to the rest of the team". This needs to change if the Canadiens are going to have success, mostly because the second line has been consigned to defensive duties. Among all skaters who played at least 750 minutes at 5-on-5 this season, no one was on the ice for fewer goals against per 60 minutes of ice time than Weber was (1.27 per 60).

They have gone deep in Lord Stanley's tournament five times in the last six years, with three Eastern Conference Finals appearances and one trip to the Stanley Cup Final. That circumstance makes NY a unsafe on-paper team heading into the playoffs, even as what will be a low seed.

This could and should be the series-turner for NY.

This team is coached by Alain Vigneault, who coached Montreal from 1997-2001 and Vancouver from 2006-2013. After all, when your team is so good at producing, which line is the top line?

The New York Rangers don't mind starting the Stanley Cup playoffs on the road. Thanks to those four minutes short-handed and a shaky power play at 4:15 with Gallagher in the box for tripping Staal, the Rangers didn't create many scoring chances on Price. Even more baffling have been the Rangers problems winning at home.

Just one point separated the Atlantic Division-champion Canadiens and wild-card Rangers, who last met in the postseason in 2014.

When the Human Torpedo, Chris Kreider collided with Price in the goalmouth, the Habs goalie was one and done for the series.

Balancing the scales there's the leadership factor which is where the Blueshirts excel. Henrik Lundqvist was superb out of the gate as the Habs came out flying and firing on all cylinders. Julien won a Cup in Boston while A.V. nearly won one in Vancouver, beaten by Julien.

Wednesday night, there were mistakes, things the Rangers will need to improve on as the series progresses - Nick Holden, for instance, may want to cover his eyes in watching the game tape - but the effort and engagement the team put forth was exemplary. You have more than a week to correct and de-Maven me!

  • Julie Sanders