Open Game Thread: Canadiens vs Rangers
For the third and final time this season, the New York Rangers and Montreal Canadiens are set to clash in an Original Six matchup. Last time these two teams met, Claude Julien picked up his first win as Montreal's head coach in over a decade, as his team pulled out a 3-2 shootout victory at Madison Square Garden. Now, the Rangers will look to avoid a season sweep at the hands of the Canadiens, and prove themselves capable of beating a team they're likely to encounter in the first round of the 2017 Stanley Cup Playoffs.
Recently, Montreal underwent something of an identity change. While the shift from former bench boss Michel Therrien to Claude Julien was drastic on it's own, the Canadiens went out and acquired a handful of new players to suit Julien's style. With the acquisitions of Dwight King, Steve Ott, Andreas Martinsen, and Brandon Davidson, the team has opted to beef up their lineup at the cost of skill and speed.
Brendan Smith will be making his debut on Broadway tonight, as the newest Blueshirt defenseman will suit up for the Rangers at MSG for the first time. With Kevin Klein's and Michael Grabner's status still up in the air, it remains to be seen whether Alain Vigneault will stick with a winning lineup, or opt to remove Adam Clendening and Pavel Buchnevich if Klein and Grabner are ready to go.
Player to Watch: After scoring a goal in his first game back on Broadway, Pavel Buchnevich is still fighting for his NHL life at this point, and a weak effort from him could land him on a bus back to the insurance capital of the world. Of course, a strong effort could have the same result, but that's a part of the process that NHL-ready rookies have to go through at some point, I suppose.
Enjoy the game!