Net-front focus priority for Habs, Rangers in Game 2

Posted April 14, 2017

You think about everything that was supposedly preordained before the puck dropped in Game 1 of this series between the Rangers and Montreal Canadiens, and an opening goal from Tanner Glass and a 31-save, 2-0 shutout for Henrik Lundqvist definitely ranked high on the list of improbabilities.

The Oilers jumped out to a 2-0 first-period lead only for the veteran Sharks to come back and tie the game with just over 15 minutes to play.

On a night that began with a surprise in goal from the Pittsburgh Penguins, helping to spark the defending Stanley Cup champs on Day One of the National Hockey League playoffs, five games opened postseason play Wednesday night.

Call it a reminder that the Stanley Cup Playoffs are often a breeding ground for the unexpected to occur, and thank the New York Rangers for providing it.

Forget everything you have seen since October, because all those 82 previous games did was determine who gets to keep playing hockey, and Montreal is one of those teams. If he strolls down memory lane and makes a couple of "how'd he do that" stops, the Rangers will have a better shot than most people think.

"A lot goes into winning the Cup and obviously we've got to start with the series against the Rangers and try and build our way up against them". But he HAS to outplay his opposite number, Carey Price, which won't be easy. He also scored his fifth overtime goal of the season to win the game. The Rangers aren't a club loaded with a bunch of playoff newbies. While secondary scoring was needed this game, the team can not rely on Glass to provide it going forward. "You have to be in front of him and find that rebound".

Glass was most likely dressed to compete with the grinding style of Montreal. Hard to believe he was only credited with two hits as he seemed to have laid out multiple Rangers. Grabner, Lindberg and Miller all surpassed Glass with three hits a piece; Hayes registered four hits, and Fast tallied five.

Demoted at times to the third line, the former Hart Trophy victor scored just 19 goals this season.

Vigneault, while also encouraging, was more direct, Henry said.

"I'm not just saying that because they coached the Olympiques".

To be successful through the rest of the series, the Rangers will need more offensive contributions.

While Zuccarello was still effective Wednesday night, with a 55.17 5-on-5 Corsi for percentage and 9.86 5-on-5 relative Corsi for percentage, that could be diminished with the distraction of Gallagher. Fortunately for the Blueshirts, Montreal nemesis and Rangers leading scorer Chris Kreider is healthy.

The Blackhawks, invigorated by contributions from young players, open their series against the Nashville Predators on Thursday.

The offense has been a strength for the Rangers this season.

Not to mention, the Rangers have made some changes on the blue line with the midseason addition of Brendan Smith and new faces in the defensive pairs, like Brady Skjei and Nick Holden, have had some positives. While the expirement was a success in the first period, the trio struggled mightily in the second period as they got hemmed in their own zone on numerous occasions. After all, when your team is so good at producing, which line is the top line?

Had the Rangers made changes to their lackluster defense to make them more competitive-such as moving Skjei and Smith, who led the team in 5-on-5 Corsi for percentage with 80.95 and 77.27 respectively, to the second pair over the pair of Staal and Holden, whose 5-on-5 relative Corsi for percentages of -22.41 and -12.30 were awful as usual-to at least try to balance the offensive style changes, it may have been more advantageous for the Rangers.