The Canadiens played well enough to win game two. If it weren’t for Henrik Lundqvist standing tall during the Habs onslaught in the first period, the game could have been over shortly after it started. During the second period intermission, the knucklehead duo of Keith Jones and Mike Milbury agreed that Max Pacioretty needs to ‘step up’ for the Canadiens. Which is hilarious ‘analysis’, considering Pacioretty along with his linemates Brendan Gallagher and David Desharnais have flat out dominated their minutes in both Canadiens’ losses.
The possession game was heavily in the Canadiens favor in game two. When the game was close, the Habs had a a 63.3% possession share. It wasn’t domination throughout the lineup though, the possession game was entirely driven by the Pacioretty line.
Pacioretty, Gallagher, and Desharnais had a CF% at 5 on 5 over 85%; let that sink in. That’s domination of epic proportions. If you look at the Habs CF% rel (the possession share relative to the team’s) only five players were positive; the Pacioretty line and the defensive pair of Alexei Emelin and Andrei Markov. The Habs essentially owned the possession game with one line and had remarkably unbalanced production in game one.
Through two games the Rangers have matched up Marc Staal and Anton Stralman on defense against the Habs best trio, which has mostly played against the Rangers forward line of Carl Hagelin, Brad Richards, and Martin St. Louis. In game one, the Pacioretty line was over 15% CF% rel, which led all Habs forwards. Clearly, Alain Vigneault and the coaching staff needs to make an adjustment. As great as Staal and Stralman have been through the playoffs, they don’t appear to be the answer.
It will be interesting to see how the coaching staff adjusts in game two. Will they try and match Ryan McDonagh and Dan Girardi against the Habs one line attack? It seems like a logical adjustment to make.