Game ThreadPlayoffs

Atlantic Division Semis, Game 1: Get off to a good start

derek stepan
Photo by David Kirouac/Icon Sportswire

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.

Habs Systems

Claude Julien is one of the top coaches in the game. He gets his team to play consistent team defense, and it has worked in Montreal. He starts with an aggressive 2-1-2 forecheck early and then a more conservative 1-4 or 1-1-3 lock later with a lead. In the defensive zone, the he keeps it simple with a low zone collapse, defending in layers depending on puck location. On special teams, it’s again simple with an umbrella power play (perhaps a little 1-3-1 sprinkled in) and a wedge+1/diamond force penalty kill where they pressured for turnovers.

For more on these systems, check out our Hockey Systems page.

Disclaimer: I’m on vacation, this was written on Saturday when I left. These are the lines I assume will start Game One.

Habs Lines

Max Pacioretty-Philippe Danault-Alex Radulov
Artturi Lehkonen-Alex Galchenyuk-Brendan Gallagher
Paul Byron-Tomas Plekanec-Andrew Shaw
Dwight King-Michael McCarron-Torrey Mitchell

Andrei Markov-Shea Weber
Alexei Emelin-Jeff Petry
Nathan Beaulieu-Jordie Benn

PP1: Galchenyuk-Shaw-Radulov-Markov-Weber
PP2: Pacioretty-Danault-Gallagher-Beaulieu-Petry

Carey Price gets the start

Rangers Lines (presumed)

JT MillerMika ZibanejadRick Nash
Chris KreiderDerek StepanMats Zuccarello
Michael GrabnerKevin HayesJesper Fast
Tanner GlassOscar LindbergJimmy Vesey

Ryan McDonaghDan Girardi
Marc StaalNick Holden
Brady SkjeiBrendan Smith

PP1: Zibanejad-Hayes-Nash-Miller-McDonagh
PP2: Stepan-Miller-Kreider-Zuccarello-Holden

Henrik Lundvist gets the start.

Crazy Prediction: A 100% powerplay conversion rate for the Rangers.

Game time is 7pm. Gifs are on @blueseatblogs. Be sure to follow our snapchat (blueseatblogs) too!

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  • Luckily lack of optimism isn’t contagious. Or is it?

    Morbid around here lately. I’ll just be over here losing my mind with excitement.

  • It is simple You wanna do well in the playoffs……EVERYBODY HAS TO STEP UP………To the truest possible meaning of the word “EVERYBODY” !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!………..LETS GO RANGERS !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • All I can say is: Playoff Hockey!!! Nothing beats it. (Well, maybe real good loving with your significant other, but then again, maybe not!)


      • Yeah, but when Lundqvist made that save against Montreal in 2014, it was like the big O but with 20,000 people. That game ranks with high school graduation, the first time I kissed my future wife, and the day I made partner as the four greatest days of my life.

  • We are lagging far behind in every aspect of the game….Montreal’s energy level is off the hook….Zuke…best player again so far…Mika…brain dead out there

  • Tanner Glass…Looks like he just sent it in the direction of the goal……AND IT WENT IN !!!!!!!!!…I”ll take it .

  • Huge first goal to settle things down. Couldn’t have asked for anyone else to get that. Good for Glass!

    • And Girardi rocking Pacioretty’s bell. Don’t look now, but perennial Rangers goats making an early impact here.

  • Jeez, just got home, haven’t had time to get the TV on yet, wonder if my man Tanner Glass is gonna dress … just flipped the channel … what Tanner is dressed, C’mon Man – Who scored, say it again, what a great way to start this off … Tanner is now another little piece of trivia I think … I’ve won beers in bars over his other trivia goal, this one for the first goal of the 2017 playoffs … hey, haters gonna hate, but hopefully they show a little compassion for one of the hardest working skaters on the ice … and so glad he got to start the 2017 run for the cup off right. Faith – gotta have faith!!!

  • PK getting it done, but the PP has to put one in the net. Those missed opportunities could be critical in the third.

  • Repeat:……..C’mon……..GET……..THE…….NEXT…….GOAL…….IN…….THIS……..GAME

  • Agreed….wasted opportunity….5 on 3….get a man in front of the net and hammer the puck…this passing has to stop….no shot on goal equates to no goal…any shot has a chance of going in….shoot the PUCK….(Barry) had to put that in there…lol

  • Solid f#$%ing road game. PP was the only obvious wart, but goaltending was superb, compete level was exactly where it needed to be, the boys fought for puck possession, played physical, and snagged the upper hand despite Price being fantastic. This is going to be a very difficult series, but let tonight be a lessen to all the naysayers.

    Throw yourselves behind this team! Believe!


    • Well said Spozo! A shabby washed up AHL leaky sieve of a goalie from what we’ve been led to believe anyway! 🙂

      Typical Rangers playoff win from just about any year going back a decade. Nail biter…great defense, superb goaltending, little in the way of offense.

      This is what Hank does in post season. Not every game obviously, but the Hank Haters conveniently forget that the primary reason this team has succeeded in post-season is because of the King. We win series because our one truly GREAT player raises his game and puts the team on his back. Unfortunately, he doesnt get much help from any of our other “stars”.

      No coach in their right mind would bench a future HOFer on the hope that a career back-up MIGHT do what Hank has made a career of doing. You stick with your future HOFer until he proves he can’t do it anymore. Plain and simple.

      And the whole “House of Horrors” thing is just another overblown narrative. Guys, Hank beat the Habs and won two games in Montreal in 2014. The regular season stuff means absolutely nothing.

      And how about Glass? Of course, everyone forgets the Rangers made a deep playoff run with Glass in 2015. But why not make up a narrative about how Glass will be exploited? He wasn’t then and he certainly wasn’t tonight.

      How about Girardi and the rest of the defense (other than Holden, who was terrible)? What a great job they did after the 1st period!

      As I’ve said before, my biggest concern is not Hank. It’s not Glass. It’s not our defense. It’s our so-called deep and lethal offensive “stars”. Look, I understand this is Carey Price we are talking about here, but we can’t expect Hank to play perfect hockey every night. There are still too many passengers on this bus in the offensive zone who can’t finish and who haven’t finished much over the past 25 games.

      This was a great, great win. Seeing Hank play like that…like all the believers expected he would, fills the team and fans with hope. But I still worry whether or not we can generate enough offense. Not just against Price but against anyone. That will be the key as to how far we go–our offense, not our defense. And certainly not Hank.

      • Kudos to both Lundqvist and Glass for great games.

        But one thing to remember is that there are many points of view here. It may be easy to pretend all of the people who disagree with you agree with each other, but that just isn’t the case.

        Now, you say Hank can’t be perfect every night; well, Hank has never had a perfect game in his entire career. I had cable issues last night and saw only two periods of the Ranger game and a handful of minutes of the Oiler game. Ignoring saves, I saw more good plays from Cam Talbot than from Hank. Talbot, Price, Murray are hockey players who play goal. Lundqvist has always been just someone who can keep the puck out of the net.

        Now, historically, Lundqvist (was/is?) as good at what he does as anyone on balance and when he is in a zone – like last night – he is going to win. However, the Rangers have pretty much struggled on the power play during Hank’s entire career and he is somewhat to blame. The Rangers are a poor possession team and he bares some of the blame for that. The fact that you think the excellent Ranger defense is terrible is also about Hank.

        If he continues to play as he did yesterday, none of it will matter. But he has never had a really long stretch at an extreme level. I know that Patrick Roy won the Cup several times, so having a true hockey player in net was not always essential, but i wonder if the game has changed and guys like Holtby and Hank can still win it all.

  • Great team effort! Only poor player imo was Holden with 2 egregious giveaways that stopped momentum and kept Rangers pinned in their zone.

    • And he played almost 20 minutes.. Skjei played under 17.. I lost my voice screaming at him all game

  • Who were these Rangers??? hitting and all…sheesh….Great team effort…goalie on up….Holden needs to get better though

      • Coach is not going to break up a winning lineup. Klein is no bargain and no doubt he would be next up.

        • Yes….in the AHL! 🙂

          So, physical game, right Bobby? Seemed to me the Rangers were more than up to the task of playing physical. And it was great to see Glass in there and contribute.

          But again, I point out, Glass’s presence did NOT make the Habs play less physical. Just like McIlrath’s presence last year didn’t make Boston less physical vs Stepan. It’s a myth.

          And the Rangers mostly turned the other cheek and stayed out of the box, which is what they MUST to do to win this series. Thoughts?

          • Of course it’s not going to make them less physical. But it means they will be paying a higher physical price, and there’s an important psychological benefit for our own team. It’s not negligible.

  • Where did this team come from and where did they find the Coach ? He actually changed things up !!! Unreal , no run and gun hard forecheck … Amazing how ur own zone looks with the 1-2-2 or 1-1-3 D …. Only trouble I see is Girardi was the only one who threw the body rest were little taps , Holden WTF and that atrocious 5-3 of a sad case PP … 4 th line was the best by far and we got 15 to go so we can get a name change for Stitto … Lmao

    • Haha! Hoping it doesn’t take that long to get the name change! But what a fun game. Really happy for Hank – a confident, locked in King is essential to beating the Habs. As for Glass, I’m thrilled.

    • After Brady took that hit in the face, he had some fire in his belly, and even decked one of their guys last night. Good start, let’s get #2 under our belt, and put the Canadians behind the 8 ball 2-0!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Btw, also amazing that we weren’t thoroughly outcoached in this game! I mean, what’s up with Galchenyuk on the 4th line? A talented player like that? Can you imagine if AV had done that? Maybe Julien hates the young players too! 🙂

    • I was thinking the same thing.

      Buchnevich sits, and Glass scores the game winner, meanwhile Galchenyul goes on the fourth line and is invisible all night.

      Maybe AV ain’t so bad after all.

  • Great win, Tanner Glass a gamer, enough said. Rotting away in the AHL, never said a word. Team getting pushed around he makes a statement with a booming check or drops the gloves to defend a teammate. He scores a playoff goal for an encore. Dan Girardi throwing body checks with bad intentions, WOW !! Lets not forget THE KING BEING THE KING!! Lets go Rangers!! Great 1st win!!!!

    • Yeah……physicality is overrated……My a@#$%^..
      Interesting how important a ‘not gretzky like’ player is to this team……
      I guess the league hasn’t changed that much after all…….

  • Not surprised by the win…. I predicted rangers in 5……..I maintain our speed and talent is too much for montreal… well as our defensive size…
    …..stall 6-4, holden 6-4, sjkel 6-3, smith 6-3, Mcdonagh and girardi 6-1, 6-2 ….Montreals pacioretty , gallagher etc other forwards look real small in comparison and certainly cant bully this defense!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Girardi , macdonagh, sjkel, zucc, zib, lindberg, fast, miller , grabner, smith, hayes, vesey, glass and especially Hank….real good games….
    Need nash and kreider to dominate as I believe they can…..
    Klein for holden??? I dont know…….if it aint broke……???
    Did stepan play tonight?

    • Did Hayes and Miller play tonight? Will they ever show up? They’ve been AWOL since mid-February!

      • 3E,
        Miller seemed to have possession of the puck every time he was on the ice……didnt do much with it but was active and visible……and involved……
        kredier and nash look like they are ready to break out……

        Not sure what to think of fridays game…….montreal needs to win but I see us as much more talented……

        • I don’t know either. I still don’t have much faith that we can generate much offense. Feels like we will have to do what we’ve usually done in the playoffs–no-margin-for-error Rangers banking on Hank’s brilliance and sound defensive play to win. I’m not as high on the offense as you are because, well, these are the Rangers and they don’t score much in the playoffs!

          • On paper it most certainly is. But the offense has evaporated pretty much month to month this year. And historically, we just don’t score much in the playoffs–especially against a goaltender like Price. Can we actually score 2-3 goals (not counting EN goals) every so often? I’m not so sure. No snipers on this roster. No pure scorers. No great players upfront. Just a bunch of good ones. So the question is…will good be gone enough?

            Because it’s going to be very hard to go very far if we have to ask Hank to be virtually letter-perfect every game.

            That is my biggest concern at the moment.

          • My point exactly, but there are plenty that think the offense will carry the day for us. PO hockey is tight checking, and usually the most obscure player has a great series, not the usual super stars, with few exceptions. Bottom line, it is the defense that will win, or lose it for us from here on!!!!!!

          • To quote a line from a XM Radio sportscaster (Adam Schein), “We’re sharing a brain!” 🙂

            Couldn’t agree more. Now, IF, and it’s a BIG IF, some guys like MIller, Hayes, etc raise their game and play in beast mode (Nash, Stepan, Kreider too) if any one or two of them get scorching hot, and we can be a playoff team that can average 2.5-3 goals a game, THEN you can truly dream of 15 more wins.

            I believe with a few breaks we can get by Montreal and Bos/Ott. But to get those final eight wins we all want, it will take a superhuman effort from guys who for the most part haven’t proven they can do that. Now is their chance.

    • Not to mention MIller’s agregious delay of game penalty. Still nit a smart player. Future may (and i should caption MAY) be Miller and Hayes. In the here and now, Stepan is far more trustworthy and playoff tested.

      • Only game one but encouraging to see Henk get his groove back. Av has to settled the score with Claude Julien and not let his squad get intimidated like he did against the Bruins in his Canuck days. Step on their throats Av.

  • They worked their butts off last night. They keep that up and they’ll win this series. Tanner only played about 8 minutes, but he made the most of them. Hank was playoff Hank. That is what we needed!

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