After game one, Canadiens forward Rene Bourque said: “we got our asses kicked”. I can confirm, that the Canadiens did in fact get their collective asses kicked in a 7-2 curb stomping at the Bell Centre on Saturday afternoon.
Martin St. Louis kicked off the scoring and Rick Nash (finally!) finished it. When all was said and done, the Rangers put up a touchdown to open game one. It was the first time the Rangers scored seven goals in a playoff game since the 2007 sweep of the Atlanta Thrashers.
It was such a thorough ass kicking, that even though there was only about ~10 minutes of close play, the Rangers had a total possession share of 54.4%.
However, if it weren’t for Henrik Lundqvist continuing his brick wall impersonation in the second period, the game could have been quite different. The Habs controlled the play for nearly the entire period and The King kept the Rangers lead intact. The one goal the Habs did managed to squeak by him was off a strange deflection via Ryan McDonagh when the home team had six skaters on the ice. Montreal typical.
Despite their control of the second period, the Habs didn’t come to play in game one. They were thoroughly overwhelmed by the Rangers speed, even though they’re a good skating team in their own right. The Rangers capitalized on two Habs mistakes late in the second period, which ended up being the fat lady singing.
Chris Kreider had a half dozen opportunities through the neutral zone where he simply blew by the Canadiens concrete footed defensemen. On one, he had a breakaway and was tripped up by Alexei Emelin and barreled into Carey Price, who appeared to be hurt on the play. The Habs think Kreider did it on purpose; those guys are stupid. I would be pissed too if I were in that locker room, but Emelin clearly interfered with Kreider on the play. Why pass up a breakaway in what was a tight game at the time to purposely trip and fall into the goaltender? Doesn’t make sense.
To add insult to injury, Kreider did this later in the period:
So what did we learn from game one? Not a whole lot. The most encouraging sign was that the Rangers were able to thoroughly dominate a team that wasn’t 100% ready to compete. That’s a sign of an elite team that has their collective heads on straight. We also learned that the Rangers speed is quite lethal (okay, we already knew that) and that the Habs defensemen as a group aren’t all that fleet of foot.
Of the seven goals, the last might have been the most important. Nash finally breaking the seal hopefully will open the floodgates. If Nash comes alive in this series, it’s as good as over for the Habs.
The Rangers need to forget this game ever happened though. It’s easy to have a let down game after beating the piss out of your opponent in the prior game. The Habs were embarrassed in front of their hometown crowd. They won’t let it happen again in game two.
It wasn’t all sunshine and happiness for the Rangers though. Derick Brassard was hurt on his second shift and never returned. He may have if the game were closer and he was needed. But it appears to be a back injury and it may keep him out of game two. If that happens. Dominic Moore will likely assume his spot on the third line; who easily had his best game of the season as an emergency fill in for Brassard.