When the Montreal Canadiens took down the heavily favourited Boston Bruins in the second round of these Stanley Cup playoffs, they looked unbeatable. If they could beat the big, bad Bruins, they could beat anybody. Especially the New York Rangers.
Six games later and things couldn’t be more different. The Rangers are moving on. The Canadiens are going home.
“We felt that we lined up better against the Rangers than the Bruins. We had a letdown,” Max Pacioretty said after the 1-0 loss. Most people did too.
Many will talk about goalies. How Carey Price went down in game one and Montreal had to go with the untested Dustin Tokarski. How King Henrik Lundqvist solidified himself as one of the premiere goalies in the game.
The reality is that Tokarski was Montreal’s best player. And if Price was healthy, the result would be the same.
Game six alone showed how this whole series played out. The Rangers carried the play, but Tokarski kept it close.
When Dominic Moore scored late in the second period, one a hard shot from the slot that no goalie could stop, the Rangers had Montreal right where they wanted them. Before the 7-4 Montreal blowout in game five, Lundqvist had only given up more than two goals four times in 18 games. Game five was an anomaly and was not going to happen again.
Plus, when a goalie makes a save like this, it’s clear he’s in the zone.
In the third period the shots were 13-5 New York. For the game: 32-18. Besides the save above, Montreal had no chance at scoring to tie the game. When their season was on the line, they were pinned into their own zone by wave upon wave of hungry Rangers players.
“Right now it’s tough to think of what could have been,” Tokarski said after the game.
Everyone in Montreal is feeling the same way.