It was probably too much to expect a win in the Montreal home opener. The Rangers got what they deserved. On a emotional night at Bell Centre with Guy Carbonneau passing the torch to new captain Max Pacioretty, the Canadiens shutout the Rangers 3-0 behind 25 saves from Carey Price.
I’m too sick to do a full breakdown. So I’ll cut to the chase. Henrik Lundqvist stood on his head throughout making 29 saves. He faced several odd-man rushes in the first period due to awful pinches from his D. Particularly Dan Girardi, who struggled enough to get moved off the top line. He spent the majority with Marc Staal, who continues to look like an old 28. God help the Rangers with those contracts. Both contain no-trade clauses.
There were a lot of penalties called on each side. Even a abbreviated 3-on-3 that again exposed the Rangers. They really don’t look like they’ve practiced it much despite the preseason trial. The 4-on-4 wasn’t any better. The Habs had so many break ins, it defied logic. They are a fast and skilled team. But the way the Rangers played them was mind numbing.
Both goalies put on a show. Price’s best save came on Rick Nash robbing him of the tying goal off a great feed from Kevin “Alexei” Hayes. Nash is snake bit. He now has gone the first five games without a goal. Ditto for Chris Kreider, who despite having a effective game by playing chippy has started badly. No goals and three assists from the Rangers’ top two scoring wings isn’t getting it done. That must be fixed.
Emerson Etem’s debut didn’t go great. He turned over the puck along the wall with Jesper Fast leading directly to Tomas Fleischmann’s goal. Their failure to clear the zone resulted in a David Desharnais pass taking a favorable bounce right to Fleischmann who beat Ryan McDonagh. It wasn’t bad coverage per se but not what we’re accustomed to. To be quite frank, the Rangers captain has been inconsistent. You can’t pin that all on Girardi.
Only two Blueshirts on the back end have played well. Keith Yandle and Kevin Klein, who saw some shifts with McDonagh. Yandle and Klein have been solid defensively and created offensive chances. Maybe Alain Vigneault should rethink his D pairings. If Girardi continues to scuffle, trying him with Yandle wouldn’t be the worst idea. But Danny G is more familiar with Staal. They are the two worst skaters. It’s cringe worthy. Yandle at least can skate. He was paired with Dan Boyle, who again struggled. He looks finished.
The Rangers had a 5-on-3 for nearly a full two minutes and weren’t able to tie the game. The best opportunity came from Derek Stepan who was turned aside twice by Price with one one-time set up going wide. They’re too tentative. I understand the need to be patient. But for God’s sake. It’s a two-man advantage. Move the puck quicker. I have no idea how Scott Arniel keeps his job. And Vigneault basically used the same alignment.
AV tried some different lines in the third. But they were unable to solve Price, who was in MVP form. He didn’t have to be great. But the highlight reel stop on Nash will be replayed for a while.
The refs missed a trip on the Habs prior to Dale Weise beating Lundqvist thru the wickets to ice the contest. Yandle was clearly tripped. But there was no call. The way the Rangers were offensively, it wouldn’t have mattered. The Habs were the better team and improved to a franchise record best 5-0-0. Hard to believe they never had done that before. The previous three Montreal teams that started 4-0-0 won the Stanley Cup. Does it return to Canada? It’s too early to say.
Tomas Plekanec added an empty netter.