Rabid Habs

What Just Happened? Habs Drop Game One to Rangers 2-0

I hope everyone got all the anger out of their system over the course of the evening. Maybe a good night’s sleep or a hot coffee and a pastry the morning after did the trick. I for one like to compare the Habs’ playoff disappointments to a fine wine.

I don’t like wine.

What I really mean is that you should take a little time before breaking into an analysis of their play. So, if you haven’t already, do whatever ritual you need to do to get into your happy place. Despite the anger and frustration that was brought to our attention on the Rabidhabs Twitter account, this review is going to be overwhelmingly positive.

They got goalie’d

I could really stop the analysis here. Henrik Lundqvist surprised everyone and was the Rangers most dominant player. Despite his struggles against the Canadiens, Lundqvist was the only Ranger that seemed ready to play this game, as he weathered the first period storm. Lundqvist’s best save of the night came on a Shea Weber opportunity from the right faceoff circle. The only thing Weber did wrong was shoot the puck right handed, as if he could one-time the puck, the Habs may have tied the game.

Moving forward, the Habs can do two things better:

First, they can get more traffic in front of Lundqvist. Duh. It’s cliché, but it’s true. One trademark of Lundqvist’s play has always been his desire to play deep in his net. Relying on his reaction speed, if Lundqvist can’t see the puck, it’s got a better chance of beating him.

And the Habs can dump the puck in more. Wait, trust me here. One thing that Lundqvist isn’t comfortable with is playing the puck, and it showed in game one. The Canadiens managed to force him to play the puck towards the boards, and they had wingers there to intercept. I thought Shaw, Lehkonen and King did this very well. The Rangers sat back in the trap in the third period, and the Canadiens could not gain the blue line with control. Dumping the puck in and forcing Lundqvist to play the puck may be worth trying if zone entries aren’t working.

Galchenyuk outplayed his deployment

I think this one was solved in the third period, although it should have been solved sooner. Starting the game on the fourth line, Galchenyuk outgrew his linemates and needed linemates that could keep up with his compete level. Late in the third, Galchenyuk found himself back on the third line with Shaw and Lehkonen, but the trio didn’t have enough time together to illustrate a change of pace.

If this combo sticks, it may take some time to get going. The upside of having them together is too high to keep Galchenyuk on the fourth line.

The penalty kill was solid

One bright spot in game one was the Canadiens ability to silence a potent Ranger power play. In the second period, the Rangers had a nine second four on three, followed immediately by a 55 second five on three. Over that span, the Rangers didn’t t generate a single shot on goal. Montreal’s penalty kill was excellent at keeping the Rangers from re-entering the zone and getting set up while on the man advantage. At the same time, the Canadiens’ power play wasn’t all that hot either. This shouldn’t come as much of a surprise. If the Habs rely on their power play for their offense, this will be a short series.

The game winner was a miracle

I’m still not sure how Tanner Glass’ backhand found the back of the net. Fired through about three players, the gritty fourth liner’s backhand shot snuck under the bar and beat Price. When describing it like that, it seems like I know full well how it happened, but I assure you, the shock is still there. Aside from the empty netter, which I don’t count as actual offense, the Rangers were generally pretty quiet offensively. The Canadiens nearly shut down one of the most dynamic offenses in the league, which is nothing to sniff at.

Montreal had one bad period

Realistically speaking, the Canadiens only lost one period of this game; the second. There was a segment of the second where the Rangers managed to trap the Habs’ third pairing in the defensive zone, and the fourth line got stuck on the ice after icing calls. If the Rangers lose this game, they probably look back on that segment and regret not scoring a goal.

I’ve been reading comments that say that the Rangers dominated the second period. I just don’t think that’s the case. Don’t get me wrong, the Rangers had an amazing push in the second, but it lasted only about seven or eight minutes. The Habs ultimately took momentum back, and were only out shot by four.

And the third was set up for the Rangers trap game, which they did very well. The Blueshirts stopped forechecking, and seemed content with stopping the Habs at the blue line. The one criticism I have of the Habs’ effort in the third was their inability to find a way to puncture that blue line. If Claude “The Fixer” Julien does what his namesake claims, the Habs will come into game two with a plan for getting through the Rangers’ trap.

However you approach what happened in game one, we should all draw the same conclusion;

This series is far from over. Since 2010-11, the Rangers have played more playoff games than any other team in the league. New York is ready for a war, and that’s what this series is going to be.

And like the old saying goes; they may have won the battle…


Follow Ian on Twitter @BoisvertIan

One Comment

  1. Shane Oliver

    April 13, 2017 at 6:35 pm

    I’m not getting upset over this game. It was a great game. Now if we go down 3-0 and not score a single goal I’m going to go all Planet Ape over the organization……starting with the amount of money spent on defense when you have Carey Freakin Price in goal. I’ll take 6 Jordie “1 million dollar” Benns over guys being paid big bucks to not produce any day.