Canadiens put 2014 loss behind them, expect tight first round series with Rangers

Habs, Rangers expect tight first round series

BROSSARD, Que. — When Montreal Canadiens fans think of the playoff series against the New York Rangers in 2014 they see Chris Kreider crashing into and injuring goalie Carey Price in the opening game.

The Canadiens insist that incident wasn’t even discussed as they got ready to face Kreider and the Rangers again in Game 1 of their NHL Eastern Conference first round series on Wednesday night.

Captain Max Pacioretty, when asked about “the incident,” thought it referred to the blind side hit by then Canadien Brandon Prust to Derek Stepan’s jaw in Game 3 of that series, won in six games by New York with backup Dustin Tokarski in the Montreal net.

“That series got a little bit ugly with Prusty’s hit on Steps there, but we’re hockey players,” Pacioretty said this week. “Stuff happens and you move on.

“I know Stepan personally. I know a bunch of guys on their team. It’s not one of those rivalries where you go out there and you’re just thinking about how much you hate each other. It’s more that our teams clash because our playing styles are so similar.”

There are certainly similarities between the two clubs. Montreal finished first in the Atlantic division at 47-26-9 for 103 points. New York was fourth in the stacked Metropolitan at 48-28-6 for 102 points.

Both have a goalie considered among the best in the world in Price and the Rangers’ Henrik Lundqvist.

They are two teams that play high-tempo hockey, with the Rangers holding the advantage on attack and the Canadiens a little better on defence. Montreal’s power play ranked 13th with a 19.6 per cent success rate this season while New York’s was 12th at 19.8 per cent, although the Canadiens had the 14th best penalty kill while the Rangers were 21st.

It even extends to the two coaches. Montreal’s Claude Julien and New York’s Alain Vigneault are both from the Ottawa area, were minor league teammates as players in the St. Louis Blues organization and both got their first NHL jobs in Montreal.

“They play fast for 82 games and so do we,” said Pacioretty. “You don’t often see that.

“Both teams are built for the playoffs in that sense. We feel we’ve been playing that way for a while now and I’m sure they feel the same.”

They are both mainly healthy, although Canadiens defenceman Alexei Emelin will miss at least the opener with an undisclosed injury. Rearguards Shea Weber and Jordie Benn have both returned from late-season injuries.

Pacioretty left practice early Tuesday after an accidental high stick from Michael McCarron got under his visor but Julien said the team’s medical staff were confident he will be able to play.

A major factor in Montreal’s favour is in head to head meetings with New York. The Canadiens went 3-0-0 against them this season. Much of that comes down to the goaltenders.

Price is 15-5-1 with a 1.82 goals against average and .940 save percentage in his career against the Rangers while Lundqvist, who seems to have never quite got over blowing a 5-0 lead and losing to Montreal on Feb. 20, 2008, is 14-17-3 with a 2.57 average and .898 save percentage against Montreal.

Price had a laugh with the media this week but gave short, sometimes flippant answers to questions.

Asked about the Kreider incident he said “it’s a new day.”

On whether the Rangers would invade his crease again, he said “yeah, that sounds like playoff hockey.”

Asked if the series was a chance for redemption, he said “no, not even a little bit.”

Expect Price to be all business in goal. With the trade last summer that sent popular P.K. Subban to Nashville for Weber, the Canadiens feel they have a shot at a deep playoff run. They will need their sometimes spotty attack to come through, but Weber gives them an imposing presence on the blue line they lacked, to go along with Price’s all-world goaltending.

The Rangers also see themselves as Stanley Cup contenders and are eager to erase the memory of last year’s first-round exit.

Bill Beacon, The Canadian Press

Just Posted

Study shows special needs hard to meet in B.C. public schools

It’s lunch time at the Dunn-Reker house, and four happy children bounce… Continue reading

Fernie Museum fundraiser a blast from the past

Retro themed evening raises over $10,000 for museum programming

Fernie Alpine Resort opens for preview weekend

Fernie Alpine Resort will be opening for a preview weekend, this Saturday and Sunday

Local boys raise money for sick children in unconventional way

Four local boys have found a way to use their passion for… Continue reading

Skid Steer stolen from Sparwood Transfer Station

Elk Valley RCMP are seeking the public’s assistance with a theft that… Continue reading

VIDEO: Rare comic showing Superman’s 1st appearance to be auctioned

The 1938 comic features Superman hoisting a car over his head

Parastone weighs in on Slalom Drive

At a public hearing in Fernie Council on Tuesday night, Jacqueline Arling,… Continue reading

Ghostriders play hard against Nelson Leafs

Fernie Coach proud of team’s effort against top KIJHL contender

Cokato resident receives Order of Canada

Dr. Bryan Kolb has been instrumental in helping society understand what happens inside our heads

Mainroad discusses road conditions, standards

Last week, Mainroad, the Ministry of Transportation, the City of Fernie and… Continue reading

Dead rats on doorstep greets Summerland mayor

Two rodents have been delivered to Peter Waterman’s doorstep

Cougar confronts man in Clearwater

Clearwater resident Barry Joneson had a close encounter of the cougar kind

Panda picks Argonauts for the win

Giant panda at the Toronto Zoo picks Argos to win Grey Cup on Sunday

Most Read