The Montreal Canadiens, trailing 2-0 heading back into New York, have found themselves in the worst position they have been in this postseason. Throw in that their best player, Carey Price, is expected to miss the remainder of the series and the Canadiens have an incredible mountain to climb if they want to reach the Stanley Cup Finals.
The main reason why the Canadiens are down 2-0 is the same reason as to why the injury to Price may be insurmountable, and that is Henrik Lundqvist. He has been absolutely spectacular this postseason and his best performance may be the 40-save outing against the Canadiens.
Offensively, the Canadiens dominated with as many scoring chances as a team could hope to have and still, they come away with an underwhelming one goal. The only way to counter a goalie who is performing at the level of Lundqvist is to have an opposing goalie doing the same thing for his team.
Price has proven this postseason that he is capable of playing at the highest level and that makes his injury that much worse. With Price between the pipes, the Canadiens could have had a chance in any game even if both Lundqvist and the New York Rangers‘ offense were playing their best. Without Price, it becomes the case that all the Rangers need is one of those two areas to play well and that will be enough to beat the Canadiens.
The Rangers can play awful and Lundqvist has the ability to take over and win the game for his team and the same can no longer be said about the Canadiens’ netminder.
The challenge that Lundqvist presents now seems insurmountable for a Canadiens team that can no longer be confident in their goalie.
Dustin Tokarski did not have an awful game against the Rangers, and if they decide to go another route, Peter Budaj has been reliable as a backup. Unfortunately for the Canadiens, not bad and reliable is nowhere near enough when the opposing goalie is at the level of Lundqvist.
It is impossible for the Canadiens to make up for the loss of Price and even if they dominate offensively, as they did in Game 2, the only hope the Canadiens have left is that Lundqvist has an off night. Considering Lundqvist has now gone five-straight games without giving up more than two goals, hoping for him to play bad is probably just fool’s gold.