Forward lines and defense pairings
Pacioretty – Danault – Radulov
Byron – Plekanec – Gallagher
Lehkonen – Galchenyuk – Shaw
King – Ott – Mitchell
Markov – Weber
Benn – Petry
Beaulieu – Davidson
Brian Flynn, Michael McCarron, Andreas Martinsen, Alexei Emelin, Nikita Nesterov
The common refrain after this game was: New York was a desperate team. It was a strong bounce-back effort from the Rangers who showed a different side than Sunday night. The Blue Shirts were aggressive (43 hits), owned the neutral zone and were first on pucks.
It was that simple. And, they scored first.
The opening goal by Jesper Fast helped bring a sceptical Madison Square onboard with the Rangers facing an inauspicious record for home playoff losses. Fast was the recipient of good fortune with the bad taking a bad bounce off the skate of Andrei Markov.
Less than a minute earlier, the scoring chance was at the other end of the ice. It was Canadiens forward Andrew Shaw who was unable to finish on a breakaway.
Remember Shaw? When he was coasting or taking a bad penalty during the season, we were confidently told by his apologists, “But just wait til the playoffs!”
What were we waiting for exactly? So far Mr. April hasn’t looking much different from the Shaw we watched in January. In fact, apart from an uptick in his play immediately after the arrival of Claude Julien, we haven’t seen much that would justify the six-year deal that Shaw received from Marc Bergevin.
In four games, Shaw has zeroes across the board while averaging 15 and a half minutes a game. He also sports an unflattering minus-2 with 35.7 percent success rate at the faceoff dot. Andrew Shaw certainly has company in the no-show department so far in the playoffs but given that he was acquired by Bergevin specifically for the post-season (at significant cost) he has to be considered a disappointment so far.
The Rangers dominated in the second frame. Two-thirds of the way through the period, shots were 11-2 for the home side. By far, it was New York’s best period of the series.
In addition to the Canadiens lack of offense in this game, there were plenty of holes on the back end. The Rangers aggressive game put pressure on the Habs defencemen throughout the game. Jeff Petry and Jordie Benn were at fault on the Rangers winning goal (not to mention, Max Pacioretty.)
But once again, the award for the worst player on the ice went to Nathan Beaulieu. Hands down. No one else came close.
Despite the loss, the Canadiens remain in the driver’s seat with two of the remaining three games being at the Bell Centre. But Julien will have to insulate his defencemen and find the right line combinations to produce more than a single goal.
▲ Carey Price, Shea Weber, Torrey Mitchell, Artturi Lehkonen, Alex Galchenyuk, Brendan Gallagher, Tomas Plekanec
▼ Nathan Beaulieu, Jordie Benn, Max Pacioretty