Habs Goalie: Tokarski (L)
Opposition Goalie: Lundqvist, (W)
Habs goalscorers: Pacioretty
Opposition goalscorers:McDonagh, Nash, St. Louis
Brendan Gallagher - Game PuckIf another player came out in an intermission and said being down 2-1 after a bad late goal in a game without the only goalie the team has thrived with all year, you would not believe him. I believe it when this guy says it. The way he never loses belief in a game or on almost any play is magical. The Habs can put this to better use, just as they did in recent victories.
Max PaciorettyA goal. He's now our only danger man? Strange world these playoffs. Max getting back to his predatory instincts is great news for the Habs. His goal was the product of goalscoring will, not much else. There were another few drives that nearly produced because of the same thing. Gallagher and he are both in the dome, but I'll gladly say they do not complement one another as well as they should. Time for Therrien to realize Chara isn't playing and put the end-of-season line together. Someone needs to get on the end of those hopeful Vanek passes, and someone needs to get some of those to a hungry Paciotetty.
Alex GalchenyukHe shouldn't have a case. He looked rusty. The rest of the Habs forwards made his case for him by playing the peripheral mess of the last two periods. If the rust is shaken in time for games of consequence, you can see the strength and skill of this first rounder will be of great help to searching Canadiens offence.
Nathan BeaulieuI am genuinely impressed. There's some poise at the back and skates to turn heads. It's not polished yet, but I hope the coach starts to see what an option he has here. The shakeups up front worked, I wonder whether some changes at the back might be of help. Not permanent ones, just moments of experimentation, maybe. Beaulieu with Markov on a few more times could help the forwards.
PK SubbanEven doing too much, he still deserves to be counted as our best. Going forward, to be better, PK must find a way to make this about the Canadiens coming back into the game and not PK coming back into the game. His rushes are an unmatched weapon, let them not end with pop gun wristers. PK was on for two goals against, but I don't think it's far to say either was directly his doing.
Dustin TokarskiI was of two minds on this. I do believe Therrien made the right call on starting Tokarski (those who spoke with me in the morning will attest I called for this). Dustin has been a champ every step of the way in his career and he was very good for Hamilton. I like Budaj and all, but he seems to me a good time goalie. I've never been comfortable with the result from him in a end-of-season tight affair. Not sure why. Tokarski in the end did make his own case rather clearly. After he allowed two goals Price would have stopped, he kept it close
Knew this Ranfers series would be tough. This has exceeded expectation. Can't defend. Can't score. Can't get a call.
What the Halloran can go home and say he gave more penalties to the Rangers than the Habs, but he made some big mistakes. Vanek was frustrated into slashing because of three missed calls on which the refs did not wish to influence an NHL game by handing out a deserved 5-on-3. The momentum shifted completely on this play, and wouldn't you know it, the refs influenced the game. The call they made on the Galchenyuk play was amateur hour. They saw a falling player and no more, otherwise there wouldn't be a call. The players have to deal with 4 permanent obstructions for that quality of vision on the play on the puck? The final nail came on that one.
The refs were bad. They always will be. This is known. There has to be contingency for this. The Canadiens cannot win a Stanley Cup or probably another round of the playoffs as a team that is dead without a lead. This has been their fatal flaw for as long as I can remember, since the trap first came into the league: great when in front, terrible in a tight chase.
What they did tonight to make Lundqvist look the enduring hero was textbook Habs. There were very few shots indeed that could have beaten any goalie that played in the NHL this year. Their pressure was nominal and the pick up loose pucks was second rate.
The Rangers have been good. They have taken what good grace has given them and played it safely and soundly into wins. Tonight, they welcomed forays from Habs by opening wide lanes, which were duly taken, and by closing the middle. They have taken their powerplays and made them count.
Is there a way back? Well, there always is. Teams go throught strange motions at this time of year and flat games can befall the unlikeliest of candidates.
For me the way back must start with discipline. Remember the beginning of the playoffs was all about discipline for the Habs. It is clearly lost. I understand what the players want. I can feel the dissonance in their veins, even from my couch perch. Therrien needs to ask them all to give them their discipline for one more week. After that, they can see what happens. Vanek was right to be frustrated, but the Vanek of previous rounds would never have annulled a PP for a slash. Subban wouldn't have (been caught) punching a player down to the ice.
Next, I think the Habs need to slow the game down. It may feel unnatural to the group, but both teams thrive on the speed and the Rangers might not respond to slower build ups as well as they do to powerless quick strikes. It's abandoning the strategy of success. It's also tailoring an approach to an opponent. Will the Rangers wilt with extended time off the puck? Perhaps not. At the very least, the quick breaks when they come can be surprises.
The Habs have a win in them after this one. They had better think hard about making it next game.