Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Canadiens Put 2014 Loss Behind Them, Expect Tight First Round Series with Rangers

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Canadiens Put 2014 Loss Behind Them, Expect Tight First Round Series with Rangers

Article excerpt

Habs, Rangers expect tight first round series

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BROSSARD, Que. - When Montreal Canadiens fans think of the playoff series against the New York Rangers in 2014 they see Chris Kreider crashing into and injuring goalie Carey Price in the opening game.

The Canadiens insist that incident wasn't even discussed as they got ready to face Kreider and the Rangers again in Game 1 of their NHL Eastern Conference first round series on Wednesday night.

Captain Max Pacioretty, when asked about "the incident," thought it referred to the blind side hit by then Canadien Brandon Prust to Derek Stepan's jaw in Game 3 of that series, won in six games by New York with backup Dustin Tokarski in the Montreal net.

"That series got a little bit ugly with Prusty's hit on Steps there, but we're hockey players," Pacioretty said this week. "Stuff happens and you move on.

"I know Stepan personally. I know a bunch of guys on their team. It's not one of those rivalries where you go out there and you're just thinking about how much you hate each other. It's more that our teams clash because our playing styles are so similar."

There are certainly similarities between the two clubs. Montreal finished first in the Atlantic division at 47-26-9 for 103 points. New York was fourth in the stacked Metropolitan at 48-28-6 for 102 points.

Both have a goalie considered among the best in the world in Price and the Rangers' Henrik Lundqvist.

They are two teams that play high-tempo hockey, with the Rangers holding the advantage on attack and the Canadiens a little better on defence. Montreal's power play ranked 13th with a 19.6 per cent success rate this season while New York's was 12th at 19.8 per cent, although the Canadiens had the 14th best penalty kill while the Rangers were 21st.

It even extends to the two coaches. Montreal's Claude Julien and New York's Alain Vigneault are both from the Ottawa area, were minor league teammates as players in the St. Louis Blues organization and both got their first NHL jobs in Montreal. …

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