An 8 PM article? What dark sorcery is this?! I just had some time to throw something together and wanted to share some of the numbers and facts I was pouring over to prepare myself for this series with you guys. Aren't I sweet? Now, together, let's take a look at some interesting numbers regarding where the Rangers are right now, where the Habs are right now, and how some significant numbers pertaining to both teams might interact with each other. Now, as that one math teacher once said to a room full of dead-eyed children that were busy fantasizing about getting home and playing Ocarina of Time, "Let's have some fun with numbers!" Seriously, who wants to putz around with numbers when you have skulltulas to kill.
5: the number of Game Sevens that Henrik Lundqvist has won in a row, which, by the way is an NHL record. Being a resident of New Jersey I can’t tell you guys how many times I’ve heard, "Lundqvist sucks in the playoffs. He chokes. Beh bleh. BEH BLEH BLEH BUH BLEH!" from "friends" that are Devils fans. I think I’m going to just hold up a single hand at them, with my fingers splayed out, and say, "Five." And then slowly turn my hand around while lowering all the fingers… except for the middle one.
0: the number of goals scored by Rick Nash, the team’s best goal scorer. The goals are going to come for Nash eventually, hopefully they’ll come in the Eastern Conference Finals and, y’know, the stuff that comes after that. 52 shots on net and 0 goals? Even someone who is halfway down the mouth of an anaconda will eventually get a bounce or bury a chance to get him back to scoring the way we all know he can. Some of you might take this as a reason to panic. I take this as a reason to be encouraged by the number that this number leads us to. That number is…
16: the amount of goals scored by the Rangers bottom six (the third line being the Brassard line). Guys like Dominic Moore, Brian Boyle, and Dan Carcillo have contributed with some very meaningful goals. And the Brassard line? What can you say about them that hasn’t already been said. Yes, they often opt for the pretty play instead of the "just get it on the net" play but they’ve been outstanding in the 2014 Playoffs. Can we keep all of them? Please?
2.14: the amount of goals the Rangers have allowed per game in the 2014 NHL Playoffs, which is good for the best among teams still active in the playoffs. How outstanding has the Rangers defense and goaltending been since Game 5 against the Penguins? Admittedly, sometimes I’m not very fond of the "bend and not break" style of play the Rangers go into when they have a lead but with Henrik on his game
10.9%: the Rangers power play percentage, which is the worst among teams still in the playoffs. It goes without saying that as wonderful as the playoffs have been this year, they have also exposed just how wrong some of us were when we thought the Rangers power play was hunky-dory in the middle of the season. I want Richards out there, but not on the point… but the question we should be asking ourselves is who the hell do we put on the point to replace him?
1996: the last time these two teams met in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. The Rangers won that series 4-2 despite losing the first two games of the series. This number, by the way, means absolutely nothing. But we're going to hear Emrick babble about it at some point so I just thought I'd prepare you guys for it.
12: the number of points P.K. Subban has in 11 playoff games this year. Subban has 4 goals, 8 assists, and 16 PIM. Seven of Subban’s points have come on the man advantage (which is good for the lead in active playoff players in power play points), three of which were goals. Brad Richards leads the Rangers with 9 points in 14 games.
5: the number of goals that Tomas Vanek has buried in the playoffs in just 11 games on 21 shots. Vanek is tied for third in goals among players still active in the playoffs. The Rangers cannot afford to let Vanek to have time and space and get good looks at the net.
26.3%: the success rate of the Habs’ power play, which is good for the best among teams still active in the playoffs. The Habs power play should strike fear into the hearts of Rangers fans. With Subban and Markov moving the puck on the point and offensive weapons like Vanek and Pacioretty prowling around the net there is a lot to cover and keep track of when the Habs have the man advantage. The best way to fight against it? Stay out of the box.
11: the number of playoff games the Habs have played this year, which is three less than the number the Rangers have played. Will it play a factor in this series? Hopefully the extra day of rest the Rangers got and the long wait until Saturday afternoon will allow the Rangers to deal with their bumps, bruises, and tired legs. Having to survive two game sevens might have taken a toll on most teams but I'm hoping that this team might be immune to that considering the emotional high that they are riding and how tight-knit this group has become through tragedy and conquering adversity together.
4: the total number of goals scored in the three meetings between these two original six clubs in the regular season. Four goals in three games. I think we just might see some low-scoring defense-first hockey in this series.
So Blueshirt Banter, which of these numbers is the most important in your opinion or are there more important numbers that I didn't bring up? Who scares you more; Subban or Vanek? Do you think the Rangers can beat the Canadiens if Rick Nash continues to struggle to produce? Who has the advantage between the pipes; the Rangers or the Habs? How important will discipline be in this series with the Habs having a lethal power play and the Rangers having whatever-the-opposite-of-"lethal"-is power play? Who wins in a fight; a rhesus monkey with a (small) monkey wrench or a half dozen squirrels with tiny little football helmets? How long do you see this series going?
Let's go Rangers. Let's go hockey.