The Montreal Canadiens are trying to avoid losing the first two games of the Eastern Conference Finals at home against the New York Rangers. After much talk of New York’s troubles to score at Bell Centre, the Rangers exploded for seven goals in Game 1 and set the tone for the series. The Canadiens must respond with some scoring of their own.
Specifically, it will be extremely important for some of Montreal’s veteran players to step up and score some big goals. Players like Tomas Plekanec, Brian Gionta, Daniel Briere and Rene Bourque will need to produce in order for the Habs to even the series. Montreal has guns like P.K. Subban, Max Pacioretty and Brendan Gallagher, who have all produced well in the playoffs, but they’ll need some secondary scoring in order to beat the Rangers.
Bourque has five playoff goals, which is tied for the team lead, but he has just one point in his last seven games. That was a goal he scored in Game 1 against New York, but he also took three bad penalties. He needs to continue to add a few points, but play smarter than he did last game.
Briere is heading towards the end of his career and is more of a role player on Montreal at this point, but he has experience. Briere has scored 52 career playoff goals, and has two so far this postseason. Gionta has also scored big goals in the playoffs before, but only has one assist and zero goals in his last seven games. Team’s that can get scoring from all lines are usually the ones that survive the playoffs the longest.
The Rangers have certainly gotten their share of scoring from their third and fourth lines. Rick Nash didn’t score throughout two seven-game series, but secondary scoring helped the Rangers overcome that. The Canadiens need the same kind of support from their role players.
Plekanec is the one who really needs to step up, especially considering that he averages more ice time than any other Montreal forward in the playoffs. He has seven points to show for his postseason so far, but has only one point in his last five games. The fact that goalie Carey Price is questionable to start Game 2 puts extra pressure on the team to score more goals. The Canadiens will need all the scoring they can get if their star netminder can’t go. They also know that falling behind 2-0 before heading to New York is hardly an option.
The Rangers are playing with extreme confidence right now, and if they take Game 2, they’ll be heading home riding a five-game winning streak. It’s up to Montreal’s veteran players to step up and help the likes of Pacioretty and Subban.