The Rangers embarrassed themselves on Sunday night, putting forth an abysmal effort in a 3-1 loss. After what seemed like a promising start to the series in Montreal, the Rangers have now turned a potential 2-0 series lead into a 2-1 deficit. A more focused effort on offense, getting chances, and actually sustaining a forecheck are a must for the Rangers tonight.
It’s fairly simple for the Blueshirts. They aren’t going to beat Carey Price with clean shots. They are going to need to actually try, actually get to the net, and actually control the puck in order to win. It can’t be the Henrik Lundqvist show every game. They need to support their All-World goaltender. He deserves better.
Per Dan Rosen, Pavel Buchnevich is skating on the top-six with Mika Zibanejad and Chris Kreider. That line is also skating on the top powerplay with Ryan McDonagh and Mats Zuccarello. This is a good indication that Buchnevich will be skating in Game 4, likely at the expense of Tanner Glass. Buch gives the Rangers a must needed skill and goal scoring boost. The full lines:
Per our very own Josh Khalfin, citing Igor Eronko, the Rangers are likely to sign Russian defenseman Alexei Bereglazov once his KHL deal expires. Bereglazov is a big dude at 6’4″ and 220 lbs, but is a very mobile skater. Josh did a full breakdown of him earlier this month, and you should definitely check it out.
Should he sign with the Rangers, he will likely need a little time in the AHL to get accustomed to the North American rink and game. However he is a solid player and could slide into the lineup almost right away. The added benefit –aside from just landing a solid prospect, even at 22 years old– is that Bereglazov played in the KHL, and is someone that Pavel Buchnevich is familiar with. Buchnevich passed on all bonuses to have a KHL-out clause in his deal. This could be a move to keep Buchnevich comfortable as well.
These are just rumors for now, but very strong rumors. Nothing can be official until his contract in the KHL officially expires.
Last night’s loss was the worst playoff game the Rangers have played at home in quite some time. I put this as worse than any game against Pittsburgh last year, and even worse than the Tampa games in 2015. Why, you ask? Simple: Tampa and Pittsburgh were good, deep teams. Montreal is not good and is not deep. They have top-end talent, but their depth is terrible. The Rangers should at least be generating chances, which they are not. As usual, I have some thoughts.
1. I know I spend a lot of time harping on the defense, but every forward not named Rick Nash should be ashamed of themselves. You know what. I’ll even throw Tanner Glass into that mix as well. He was better than expected. But you’re telling me that this group of forwards, against that awful back line, couldn’t generate any scoring chances? Carey Price could have taken a nap in net and probably would have only allowed the one goal. There was no forecheck. No controlled zone entries. Missed passes by a mile. Missed fundamental plays. Lazy shots. No driving to the net. Nothing. That’s inexcusable.
There’s only so much Henrik Lundqvist can do. If he doesn’t pitch a shutout, the Rangers lose. It doesn’t help that they can’t win at home either. But this was just an inexcusable performance by all Rangers not named Lundqvist or Rick Nash. Sure, the Rangers had hits, but that’s what happens when you never have the puck. Heck, even when they were down three in the third and the Habs were backing off, they still couldn’t get anything going.
Carey Price wasn’t tested in this game. The powerplay was atrocious. The penalty killing was just as bad. But the 5v5 play was probably the worst. They couldn’t sustain anything at all. No offensive pressure. Not making Price move. Nothing. This was embarrassing. And in the playoffs no less.
This team needs more speed and skill. Yet Pavel Buchnevich and Adam Clendening, who have both, are not playing. This isn’t even about replacing a bad player in the lineup. It’s about playing the lineup that gives you the best chance to score on Price. This lineup isn’t it.
On to the goals:
The Rangers blew a chance to take a commanding 2-0 series lead the other night, and are now at home to try to take a pivotal Game Three. Alain Vigneault, who made the single most boneheaded coaching move in recent Rangers’ history is going to have to be better. He’s going to have to adjust.
Part of that adjustment is putting his loyalties aside and playing his best defense pairings. No more loyalty to players playing like crap. If not, then this will be a short series. We all know what the team is, but does the coach?
The Rangers have a rare opportunity tonight. They can go up 2-0 on the Habs, taking both games on the road. All of the pressure is on the Habs.
That said, the rangers are going to need to repeat the performance from Game One. That is for everyone, up and down the lineup. Forechecking, defense, goaltending, forwards. Everyone.
We’ve spent the entire week breaking down this matchup, you can check all those posts here. But for all the analysis, all the breakdowns, it’s execution on the ice that matters most.
The waiting is over. The 2017 playoffs have begun. The Rangers open in Montreal to take on a Canadiens team that has played significantly better under Claude Julien. We’ve spent the entire week breaking down this matchup, you can check all those posts here. But for all the analysis, all the breakdowns, it’s execution on the ice that matters most.
The Rangers are going to need to stay out of the box and do a much better job forechecking and maintaining sustained offense to have a chance in this series. Carey Price is probably the best in the game at the current moment. Henrik Lundqvist is going to have to be just as good, especially with the sizable advantage the Habs have on the blue line.
The final preview piece for the first round is one that is sure to decide the series, and that is the blue line. The Rangers have had issues with their defensive units all year long, but added Brendan Smith at the deadline. The Habs, who did not have such issues, added Nikita Nesterov and Jordie Benn at the deadline, moves which improved their depth.
The Habs are projected to have the following pairs for the playoffs:
Shea Weber-Andrei Markov
Alexei Emelin-Jeff Petry
Jordie Benn-Nathan Beaulieu
All week, we will be previewing the Rangers and the Habs, and how they match up. This morning I went into a deep dive of the systems both Alain Vigneault and Claude Julien deploy. This post will focus more on special teams effectiveness.
Both coaches deploy similar special teams tactics, using hybrid 1-3-1/umbrella powerplays and hybrid zone/diamond force penalty kills. The difference for both teams is going to be effectiveness. Specifically, going beyond the raw PP% and PK% numbers, especially for Montreal. When looking at team-by-team comparisons, it’s important to look at both full season numbers and numbers after Julien was hired by Montreal on Feb. 14.