On Friday afternoon, instead of skating with the Rangers during the team's practice ahead of Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Finals, Martin St. Louis was at his mother's wake. The St. Louis family had already moved the funeral of France, who died last week, to Sunday, to accommodate Martin's hockey schedule.
So again, just hours before Martin was scheduled to take the ice in a high-pressure playoff game, he was surrounded by family members, in an emotional setting. Alain Vigneault told reporter's after Saturday's Game 1 that Martin didn't get to the team hotel the day before until about midnight.
But that didn't stop Martin from impacting Game 1, as he opened the scoring, and helped the Rangers rout Montreal and take a 1-0 series lead. And before all of that happened, Hockey Night In Canada had its regularly aired opening montage, and one that focused on St. Louis. If you haven't seen it yet, it's a much watch. (But maybe keep a box of tissues on hand.)
There were obviously a number of highs for the Rangers on Saturday, and plenty of things to point out. But one element of that Game 1 that bodes particularly well for the Blueshirts if they're to have any chance at lifting the Cup, and that's Ryan McDonagh.
Brad Park. Dave Maloney. And Brian Leetch (twice). That's the company McDonagh joined on Saturday, tying a franchise, postseason record for a defenseman by recording four points. And if there was any concern over McDonagh's health, and the shoulder he injured April 1 against the Canucks.
Let's put that concern to rest.
Here are a few other things that were promising in Game 1, and could extend past Game 1.
- The Rangers had been getting balanced scoring, but not enough from their top line. Chris Kreider, Derek Stepan, and Rick Nash all scored yesterday, with the latter two coming on the power play. And obviously, the monkey is officially off Nash's back.
- Speaking of Kreider (and I'll have a pretty extensive look at this tomorrow) but his speed and skill—in the scheme of Vigneault's system, is such a weapon. His goal from yesterday is a blueprint of how Vigneault wants to operate.
- When Montreal was unraveling in the third period, they did something much bigger than allow the Rangers to just run up the score. An anemic Rangers power play got some good practice, and now will be a world's more confident entering Game 2. How about this stat:
Rangers power play goes 3-7 after going 3-29 in round 1, and 3-26 in round 2. Huge self-inflicted wound by Montreal.— Evan Sporer (@ev_sporer) May 17, 2014
- It's a situation we'll continue to monitor, but Carey Price 's health is no given. Michel Therrien said he pulled Price to protect him, but never outright said he wasn't injured after Kreider collided with him during the second period. The Canadiens had an optional skate on Sunday, during which Price skated for about five minutes before exiting. It doesn't mean he's definitely injured, but it's a story to watch.