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.
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.
Andrei Markov-Shea Weber
Alexei Emelin-Jeff Petry
Nathan Beaulieu-Jordie Benn
Carey Price gets the start
Rangers Lines (presumed)
Henrik Lundvist gets the start.
Crazy Prediction: A 100% powerplay conversion rate for the Rangers.
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