The Rangers were horrid on Monday night, and somehow came away with a win. Tonight they face a Montreal Canadiens team that thoroughly dominated them last month, and are one of the favorites to come out of the Eastern Conference this year. Montreal has been superb. Carey Price is following up his Vezina/Hart campaign with another solid year. The Habs basically score at will, and their defense has been great thus far.
As for the Rangers, well they need to play better. For the first 21 games, they’ve been hemorrhaging shot attempts, and it’s taken herculean efforts from Henrik Lundqvist to ensure victory. That can’t continue, and Montreal is a team that will beat them into the ground if they continue to play that way. Play better with the puck, and the ice will finally tilt in the other team’s direction. No team, none, can continually win by sitting and waiting for counter attacks. Sooner or later, those opportunities won’t come. Puck possession, dirty shots, dirty goals. They are needed.
Under Michel Therrien, the Canadiens play a 1-2-2 forecheck, but do use a 2-1-2 style from time to time based on the score and puck location. Though this team prefers to want to play passive and clog up the neutral zone. Like the Rangers, Montreal’s defensive zone system is to overload when the puck is along the boards and man-on-man when the puck is down low.
What’s interesting is that Therrien has said in the past that they overload the boards because of their team size and speed (note: small and fast). On special teams, the Habs play your standard umbrella powerplay. On the penalty kill, they rotate between a diamond force and a box depending on puck location. They really look to pressure the opposition all over the ice when shorthanded.
Andrei Markov-P.K. Subban
Nathan Beaulieu-Jeff Petry
Tom Gilbert-Alexei Emelin
PK: Flynn, Byron, Eller, Fleishmann, Plekanec, Pacioretty, Subban, Markov, Petry, Gilbert
Carey Price gets the start
PP1: Nash-Stepan-Zuccarello, Brassard-McDonagh
PP2: Kreider-Hayes-Lindberg, Yandle-Klein
PK: Stepan, Nash, Stoll, Lindberg, Moore, Girardi, McDonagh, Staal, Klein
Henrik Lundqvist is in net.
Crazy Prediction: Um. The Rangers play better?