NHL Playoff Predictions: Montreal vs. New York

Ah yes, the obligatory “Original Six” matchup in a playoff year. The prize that the Montreal Canadiens get for finishing 1st in the Atlantic? How about the first wildcard team, a Rangers club who finished with 1 more win and 1 less point. The Canadiens never get it easy, do they? Can they use the home ice advantage to their own advantage?

ATLANTIC DIVISION

  1. MONTREAL CANADIENS vs. WC1 NEW YORK RANGERS

MONTREAL:
47-26-9 103 PTS (7th in NHL)
Goals For – 226 (15th)
Goals Against – 200 (4th)
Last 10: 6-3-1

NEW YORK:
48-28-6 102 PTS (9th in NHL)
Goals For – 256 (4th)
Goals Against – 220 (13th)
Last 10: 3-4-3

The battle of the high scoring Rangers against the defensive prowess of the Montreal Carey Prices. One of them will have to give. Montreal is coming in the slightly hotter team over the last 10 games, but they have the pressure of home ice and that hot Canadien crowd, so it’s still a toss up at this point.

SPECIAL TEAMS:

MONTREAL:
Power Play – 19.6% (13th)
Penalty Kill – 81.1% (14th)

NEW YORK:
Power Play – 19.9% (12th)
Penalty Kill – 79.9% (21st)

Similar power plays over the season, but it is clear that the penalty kill let the Rangers down, perhaps contributing to them participating in the Atlantic Division playoffs instead of their own division, the Metropolitan. The special teams battle may just cancel themselves out and it will come down to 5-on-5 play to determine a winner in this series.
Advantage: MTL

GETTING THE PUCK ON NET:

MONTREAL:
Shots For – 30.0/game (18th)
Shots Against – 29.6/game (11th)
Shooting % – 9.1% (15th)

NEW YORK:
Shots For – 29.7/game (22nd)
Shots Against – 30.0/game (13th)
Shooting % – 10.4% (2nd)

The scariest part of the New York Rangers is that, not only are they a high-scoring team, but they have the (tied for) 2nd best shooting percentage in the entire league. They don’t shoot often, but they make the shots count. The Canadiens, on the other hand, shoot more but are in the middle of the pack when it comes to percentage. Over a 7 game series, will that make a difference?
Advantage: NYR

HEAD-TO-HEAD:

Jan. 14th – 5-4 MTL
Feb. 21st – 3-2 MTL (SO)
Mar. 4th – 4-1 MTL

INJURIES:

MONTREAL:
Alexei Emelin – Will miss at least Game 1 (Lower Body)

NEW YORK:
Antti Raanta – Day-To-Day (Knee)
Jesper Fast – Day-To-Day (Undisclosed)

SCHEDULE (ALL TIMES EST):
Game 1: Wednesday, April 12th: 7:00 PM (CBC, NBCSN)
Game 2: Friday, April 14th: 7:00 PM (CBC, USA)
Game 3: Sunday, April 16th: 7:00 PM (Sportsnet, NBCSN)
Game 4: Tuesday, April 18th: 7:00 PM (CBC, NBCSN)
Game 5: Thursday, April 20th: TBD*
Game 6: Saturday, April 22nd: TBD*
Game 7: Monday, April 24th: TBD*
*If necessary

montreal-canadiens-v-new-york-rangers

FINAL THOUGHTS:

The Montreal Canadiens won all three meetings against the Rangers this season, but for the most part they were close games. Henrik Lundqvist vs. Carey Price is an interesting storyline, with Lundqvist having one of his worst NHL seasons this year. But it’s the playoffs, so Lundqvist could string together a couple of “Henrik Classic” games and flip the script. The Canadiens take more penalties than their opposition, while the Rangers do take less, so a strong power play by the Rangers will go a long way in an upset here. Another big storyline here is the fact that New York is the best road team in the league. The key to success for both teams will be the goaltenders, and as cliche as it sounds, the best goalie wins. In this case, Lundqvist pulls ahead in Game 7. Rangers in 7 games, with the road team winning every game.

*All stats courtesy of http://www.hockey-reference.com

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