The New York Rangers opened the Eastern Conference Finals with a bang this afternoon, and embarrassed the Montreal Canadiens in a 7-2 drubbing. The Habs were unable to contain the Rangers explosive speed through the neutral zone, which made for an ugly afternoon at the Bell Centre.
- Seven different Rangers got on the board with goals today, including Rick Nash, who finally snapped his playoff goal drought. As we've been saying for a while now, it was only a matter of time before Nash finally broke through, and it couldn't have come at a better time.
- Speaking of the power play, the Rangers sure got some extended practice time in today with the man-advantage. They scored three separate times in the third period to blow the doors off, and they finally appear to have their confidence back. Couple that with Rick Nash finally knocking the piano off of his back, and this could be excellent news for the Rangers.
- Ryan McDonagh took it to another gear this afternoon, and put up a franchise-tying four point performance, which included a goal on the power play. There was some cause for concern earlier in the playoffs that McDonagh was still nursing an injury, but, that is a big time afterthought now. Thanks, Canadiens!
- How about Chris Kreider as well? Did they miss him or what? His explosiveness when tracking down pucks is simply spectacular, and his second period goal was huge in terms of silencing the home crowd. You can already see the signs of a true superstar in the making with the way he plays, and it's just amazing to watch. He's going to be a massive chip for the Rangers moving forward here.
- Once again, you really couldn't have scripted a better start for Martin St. Louis. He opens the scoring on a beautiful feed from Dominic Moore (more on him next), and looks to the rafters as he lets his emotions roll out during the celebration. Evan posted up the .GIF of everything listed here, so you should definitely check it out.
- Dominic Moore has worked out wonderfully in Rangers blue. His work on the fourth line this season has been masterful, and with Brassard leaving the game with an injury, he stepped up big time. He picked up the two assists on the Rangers first two goals, and was a work horse all night.
- To elaborate more on Derick Brassard, he did not return to the game after taking that bone crushing hit from Mike Weaver. Luckily enough, it appeared as if the injury that was nagging him had to do more with his shoulder/back rather than his head. Weaver caught him puck watching, and followed through with a clean, hard check. It was just an unfortunate sequence of events, and Alain Vigneault mentioned that he is "day to day", but did not elaborate much further.
- Finally, Henrik Lundqvist was locked in once again this afternoon, and turned away 20 of the 22 shots he faced throughout the game. Had he not come up massive in the second period following the Rene Bourque goal, the Canadiens may have found a way back into this game. He has been locked in thus far, and if continues to keep that level of play, watch out.
Game two is scheduled for Monday night at 8:00 PM at the Bell Centre. Get it done.