It has been a weird year for the New York Rangers. They’re clearly good enough to be in the playoffs, and they reached 100 points, but I have seen nothing but grief on Twitter from their fans, complaining about line combinations, and good kids sitting for poorer veterans. Yet they’re still here.
As for the Habs, apparently swapping PK Subban for Shea Weber was all it took for them to get back into the playoffs after being part of the Great Canadian Failure of 2016. /sarcasm.
All in all, they’re two pretty close teams and I expect that to be reflected in how long this one goes.
|Eastern Conference Round One|
|New York Rangers||Vs||Montreal Canadiens|
|1st Wildcard||Seeding||1st Atlantic|
Fourth-best offence in meets third-best defence. The Habs don’t score a tonne, but they’re reasonably solid at the back, and will be tough to break down. Can a high-scoring offensive unit do just that?
|Record versus opponent|
It would appear these teams have faced each other far too many times. The Habs swept the season series, although the last time these two sides met in the post-season, the Rangers won 4-2 in the Eastern Conference final, before losing to LA in 2014.
|Chris Kreider||28||Goals||35||Max Pacioretty|
|Mats Zuccarello||44||Assists||36||Alexander Radulov|
|Mats Zuccarello||59||Points||67||Max Pacioretty|
|Derek Stepan||209||Shots||268||Max Pacioretty|
|Matt Puempel||18.8||Shot %||22.9||Paul Byron|
Both teams have pretty deep scoring. The Rangers have 25 goal scorers, the Habs 26. Both have ten players who have scored ten or more goals. But after that, the Habs struggle. Only two Habs have broken the 20 goal barrier – Pacioretty and Byron. The Rangers have 20 players who have double-digit points, of which 11 have broken 30. The Habs do have 13 25+ points scorers, but not to the heights of the Rangers.
Again, good offence against good defence.
|Even Strength Team Possession (via corsica.hockey)|
|Unadjusted Possession Leaders (ES, min 200 minutes)|
|New York||Adam Clendening (56.41)||Chris Kreider (53.95)||Adam Clendening (55.34)||Chris Kreider (54.20)|
|Montreal||Mark Barberio (55.12)||Phillip Danault (55.75)||Jeff Petry (53.82)||Brendan Gallagher (55.84)|
Well, I guess that’s where the Rangers fans’ ire comes from. #TheRangersAreActuallyBad? Montreal, on the other hand, are good at controlling games, and if this continues, it could be hard for that strong Rangers offence to get going.
Only three players who amassed over 200 minutes ended up as negative possession players for the Habs, as opposed to only five Rangers ending the year as positive possession players. That’s quite the mis-match.
|Power Play||Penalty Kill|
|PPG For||SHG Against||PPG Against||SHG For|
Two slightly above-average power plays meet two around-average penalty kills. Special teams probably won’t make the difference here, unless one team takes a silly amount of penalties.
|Henrik Lundqvist||Antti Raanta||Carey Price||Al Montoya|
|All Sits Sv%||91.03||92.20||92.31||91.21|
|All Sits HDSv%||82.93||82.72||84.60||82.35|
It’s not the monster Lundqvist of previous years, but he’s still Henrik Goddamn Lundqvist. And at the other end of the ice is the gold standard. Considered the best in the world, Carey Price is going to have to prove it if he wants to deliver the Habs’ first cup since 1993.
It seems strange to say it, but I have no idea how the team with such a strong goal production rate is such a bad possession team. Voodoo, probably. I’m going with the Habs, because of their stronger defence, and Carey Price being, well, Carey Price.
The winner faces Ottawa or Boston, and so would be in with a pretty good chance of making the ECF.