10 reasons for Montreal Canadiens optimism, despite it all going to hell
The absence of sound at the end of the New York Rangers’ 3-1 Game 2 victory on Monday night was downright eerie.
The Bell Centre is a chamber of exhilarating enthusiasm where, as Doc Emrick mentioned on NBC, they don’t even need the scoreboard as a catalyst for cheering. But looking at a 0-2 series deficit to the Rangers, the Montreal Canadiens left the ice under a pall of shock, frustration and disappointment.
Fret not, Les Habitants. Yes, Carey Price was Kreider’d and Henrik Lundqvist is impenetrable and the Rangers won for the first time in 14 games in which they’ve led in a series. But there are reasons why the birds are singing, the sun is shining and Michel Therrien should drop the Sutterface.
Here are 10 reasons why the Montreal Canadiens and their fans shouldn’t give up hope. Yet.
1. Montreal Seriously Carried Play in Game 2
From a possession standpoint, the Habs were brilliant in Game 2, with a 63.3 corsi close and 80 shots that were either on goal, blocked or missed the net. Most of that possession brilliance was thanks to the GDP Line of Brendan Gallagher, David Desharnais and Max Pacioretty, which was the best line in the game for either team.
2. Dustin Tokarski Didn’t Suck
He’s not Carey Price, but he’s not Peter Budaj either. He made 27 saves on 30 shots, some of them quite good. Of the goals he surrendered, the Rick Nash one he might want back. But they can go into Game 3 knowing that the kid’s alright, if not Ken Dryden reincarnated. Especially if they can cut down on the ...
3. Odd-Man Rushes
Michel Therrien singled this out as a Game 2 weakness, and it directly led to Nash’s goal. The Canadiens can improve here, and should be able to given their overall team speed.
4. They Have This Man, And It’s The Playoffs
5. Power Plays Ebb and Flow
So far in this series, the Rangers power play is 4-for-10 and the Canadiens is 0-for-9. Remember when the Rangers were 0-for-36? Remember when Montreal was 10-for-36? Streaky PPs are a playoff norm, and usually unsustainable.
6. The Agitation Hasn’t Started
Getting their hate on was easy for Montreal in the Bruins series, because Boston was a catalyst for it. Outside of Chris Kreider, the Rangers don’t engage and are skating away from the Canadiens’ post-whistle stuff. This is where Brendan Gallagher and P.K. Subban are needed. OK, and also on the score sheet.
7. It’s Entirely Possible The Rangers Will Be Distracted On Home Ice
Have we mentioned Margot Robbie of “The Wolf Of Wall Street” is a massive Rangers fan?
8. Deep Breaths
Game 1 was, to use a Canadian colloquialism, “clown shoes” because Montreal was still processing its win over Boston. “We came off a really emotional series against the Bruins,” said Therrien. They played better in Game 2, and now get a few days to get their minds right for Game 3. And by that we mean …
9. Welcome Back, Underdogs
The Habs play the role of the disrespected better than anyone, and right now everyone has them written off down two games and a starting goalie. The clock starts now for the next P.K. Subban “no one thinks we can pull this off expect us” speech.
10. The Rangers Aren’t Usually Early Finishers
Five of the last seven playoff series the Rangers have participated in have gone seven games. Their last conference final went six against the Devils.