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PHT Morning Skate: Rangers get second chance to eliminate Montreal

May 29, 2014, 8:07 AM EDT

MONTREAL, QC - MAY 27: Dustin Tokarski #35 of the Montreal Canadiens defends the net against Chris Kreider #20 of the New York Rangers during Game Five of the Eastern Conference Final in the 2014 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at Bell Centre on May 27, 2014 in Montreal, Canada. Canadiens defeated the Rangers 7-4. Getty Images

Like the Montreal Canadiens before them, the Chicago Blackhawks were able to stave off elimination last night when faced with a 3-1 series deficit. They certainly didn’t make it look easy as the Los Angeles Kings pushed them to the bitter end in the double-overtime contest, but the Blackhawks have lived to fight another day.

The series switch off again today, which means that we’re back to the Eastern Conference Final.

Game 6: Montreal Canadiens vs. New York Rangers [New York leads 3-2] (8:00 p.m. ET — NBCSN)

New York Rangers goaltender Henrik Lundqvist squandered his first opportunity to reach the Stanley Cup Final, but his strong effort earlier in the series has afforded him two more chances.

Lundqvist was yanked just 28:58 minutes into Tuesday’s contest after allowing four goals on 19 shots. With the benefit of 20/20 hindsight, it would have been interesting to see if Lundqvist could have shrugged off his rough start as the Rangers rallied back from a 4-1 deficit after he left the game, but backup Cam Talbot couldn’t hold onto the lead.

“I pulled [Lundqvist] because I thought at that time we needed a little momentum shift, and I thought it might catch everybody’s attention,” Rangers coach Alain Vigneault said. “It did for a while. Obviously, it didn’t work out.”

At the same time, yanking him prevented the situation from getting out of hand and potentially hurting his confidence. Now Lundqvist can come back tonight fresh and refocused. He’s not the only Rangers player that needs to do that.

“We didn’t give [Lundqvist] too much help,” Rangers defenseman Dan Girardi acknowledged.

For Montreal, all eyes will be on Max Pacioretty, who scored 39 goals in the regular season, but has been on-and-off in the playoffs. He struggled in Game 4 and called on himself to bounce back for Game 5. He did just that by scoring a goal and an assist, but the Canadiens need sustained production out of him.

Montreal doesn’t have any margin for error left and can’t count on another seven-goal outing led by a hat trick from an unlikely hero like Rene Bourque. Ultimately, the Canadiens top players will probably make or break them and that puts the pressure on Pacioretty.

Montreal’s defense needs to step up too, which had a nasty breakdown midway through Game 5 when the Rangers scored three unanswered goals in less than five minutes. That kind of stretch would have sunk the team on another night.

Even if Carey Price had been healthy, he wouldn’t have been able to bail out his teammates entirely during that stretch, but it’s not like rookie goalie Dustin Tokarski was blameless. He certainly has made some great saves along the way and deserves a lot of credit for coming into a high pressure situation and holding his own despite his lack of NHL experience. Still, Tokarski will have his hands full tonight if Lundqvist and the Rangers defense bounce back.

  1. ajg314 - May 29, 2014 at 9:17 AM

    Let’s Go Rangers!!

    • doknyc - May 29, 2014 at 9:23 AM

      clap clap clapclapclap!

  2. 7mantel - May 29, 2014 at 9:46 AM

    Let’s Go NYR’s win it in your own barn !

    • doknyc - May 29, 2014 at 10:02 AM

      technically, it should be garden, but hell, who’s arguing semantics haha..

      look for lunqvist to be lights out tonite… and here’s hoping we lay out a hab or two along the way… 4-1 blueshirts, and enjoy watching the west beat each other up for 2 more games…

      • 7mantel - May 29, 2014 at 10:22 AM

        I just want the Rangers to win ! The bickering and the other crap is getting old !

  3. bmy0913 - May 29, 2014 at 10:25 AM

    We need a clinch tonight. Chicago pulled one out last night to extend the West. We need that extra rest and prep time. Clinch tonight, at least a day more of down time before the cup starts. Maybe more if Chicago can pull another win.

    I would imagine that AV got dead in some a**es after this last showing. No more chippy garbage hockey. Has anyone been watching the West? They are just wrecking each other on the boards, huge hits, lots of physical play–but no scrums or trash after the whistles. The Rangers need to rise up and let the Habs hang themselves on dirty play.

    Lundqvist will be pissed tonight, and he plays like a monster with a chip on his shoulder. Look for one more bracket slot to fill tonight.

    • buckhome - May 29, 2014 at 12:41 PM

      pretty sure the league has decided the finals start June 4 no matter if both series end in 6

  4. rpiotr01 - May 29, 2014 at 10:32 AM

    I would really like to see the Rangers stop buying into the Candiens’ garbage but I’m afraid they’re already in the Rangers’ heads. Was hoping they’d be more disciplined than that.

    NYR are certainly capable of putting together a great performance tonight and closing it out, but IMO they’ve clearly lost that calm focus that drove them to 5 straight wins.

  5. jkay1818 - May 29, 2014 at 10:49 AM

    I agree with all posts above. Something is lacking for me this series, mostly because I am so nervous every game and all day, and not even thinking of the SCF yet. Still a lot of work to do, but, i have to say, the way the habs embellish, whine and their fans in general, they have zapped a lot of intensity away from it. it’s just been such a whiney series across the board. I want to forget about this team already and move on.
    Hank needs to be big and put on his game 7 focus and close this out.

    • 7mantel - May 29, 2014 at 10:52 AM

      Spot on !

    • charlie24zz - May 29, 2014 at 12:57 PM

      You’re two are the biggest jokes in the world! Is this website a Rags circlejerk????

  6. doknyc - May 29, 2014 at 11:02 AM

    agreed jkay…

    however, i am seriously worried about one aspect tonite…

    when we go through the line, shaking their hands, will Subban flop to the ice, and grab his head, in the hopes of getting someone suspended for the finals?

    • jkay1818 - May 29, 2014 at 11:09 AM

      or if someone pats Plekanec on the chest and says good game, will he snap his head back and sell a call to the face?

      • doknyc - May 29, 2014 at 11:28 AM

        will michelle therrien complain that the rangers are watching the habs leave the ice for their tee time tomorrow?

    • bmy0913 - May 29, 2014 at 11:58 AM

      Hahahahaha, I think they need to base the number of games suspended by the estimated number of inches his skates are from the ice at his leaps apex.

  7. bmy0913 - May 29, 2014 at 12:00 PM

    Man, I’m seeing a lot of thumbs downs, but no comments to debate. Where you at, bleu blanc et rouge?

    I guess the homer trolls have yet to crawl out from under the bridge this morning. Well, it’s afternoon their time now, I’m in CST.

    • jkay1818 - May 29, 2014 at 12:31 PM

      joey4id will be on momentarily to debate everyone and tell us how clueless we are. then he will debate how we feel eg: tired of the entire montreal team and their antics.
      he will even find time to disagree and debate ones feelings.

    • charlie24zz - May 29, 2014 at 1:00 PM


  8. idonthavethebloodyoucrave - May 29, 2014 at 1:54 PM

    The trend shows that the Rangers will rebuild the wall again and this will end tonight. They usually get back to what makes them successful (being able to suffocate their opponents with a 5 man defensive effort that keeps shots to the outside and blocks the high percentage ones) after a game when their wall collapses and Henry gets exposed.

    Otherwise if Montreal has finally found a solution for the 5 goalies, then we will all probably be witnessing one of the greatest comebacks in NHL history on Saturday night.

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