The New York Rangers have shown all season long that they are capable of being a successful team. They have also shown signs of subpar play, including Game 3 against the Montreal Canadiens. This series between the New York Rangers and Montreal Canadiens has been a microcosm of the Rangers’ season, with signs of brilliance and signs of doubt.
The series between the two original six rivals is tied at two, with each team winning one game on the road. Henrik Lundqvist stood tall in Game 1, turning aside 31 quality shots, giving the Rangers a 2-0 victory. In Game 2, Lundqvist was brilliant again, making 54 saves on 58 shots. The Canadiens tied the game with 17 seconds left in regulation and went on to win in overtime by a score of 4-3.
Game 3 between the Habs and the Blue Shirts was a convincing 3-1 victory for the Canadiens. The Rangers showed little fight in the game, only putting up 21 shots against Carey Price. New York had an alarming 21 giveaways, which lead to odd-man rushes for the Canadiens all night. The Rangers got back to their game in Game 4, where they won by a score of 2-1, using speed and physicality.
In both Rangers’ victories, New York dictated the play and capitalized on their opportunities. The speed of the Rangers has given teams problems all season long, with quick forwards like Michael Grabner and Mika Zibanejad. When the Rangers are playing with speed and skill, they are a top team in this league.
Henrik Lundqvist has had a tremendous start to these playoffs, unlike last years’ postseason where the Rangers were beaten in five games in round one. In the four games of this series, Lundqvist has turned aside 136 of 144 shots, a save percentage of .944%.
The Rangers also snapped a six-game home losing streak in the playoffs, dating back to the 2015 Eastern Conference Finals.
When the Rangers are not on their game, it shows. In Game 3 of this series against the Canadiens, the Rangers were slow and outworked, which led to the 21 turnovers. Unlike teams of the past, this Rangers team does not have the luxury to take any shifts off. This is a team that needs to play a near perfect game if they want to get passed Carey price and the Canadiens.
The Rangers window is closing, with key players including Henrik Lundqvist and Rick Nash getting older. This could be one of the last chances for the Rangers to make some noise, and they need to seize the moment and play the way they are capable of playing. After all, in the last five seasons, the Rangers have played the most playoff games in the league. The only thing missing? A Stanley Cup.
The Rangers will look to take the lead in the series when they play in Montreal at the Bell Centre on Thursday night.