In the first of two consecutive matchups with an original-six franchise, the Rangers host the Montreal Canadiens tonight at The Garden in the second of three meetings between the two teams.
In their first matchup at the frenzied Bell Center in Montreal, the Habs scored three consecutive goals in a span of just 62 seconds midway through the third period to prevail by a 5-4 count.
Last week the Canadiens replaced coach Michel Therrien with Claude Julien, who had just been pink-slipped by the Boston Bruins. In his first game behind the bench, Montreal lost 3-1 to Winnipeg, stretching their winless streak to three games. Montreal has been outscored 26-11 in February, going 1-6-1 so far during the month.
The Rangers last game was played with playoff-like intensity and they would prove victorious by a score of 2-1 over Washington. The Blueshirts are seeking their sixth consecutive win at The Garden. Henrik Lundqvist will be looking for career win number 403, which would move him into sole possession of 11th in all-time wins for a goaltender.
3 KEYS TO RANGERS-CANADIENS
1. Neutral Zone
Both teams aim to play with speed. The middle of the ice becomes crucial. When defending, it is important to keep the space to a minimum. On the attack, moving pucks and bodies forward forces any defender to retreat. What happens in the offensive zone is usually a direct result of what has just happened in the neutral zone.
2. Getting Back
The Rangers have been much better in their own end as the result of their defenders getting back first to the puck when the opponent has sent it in. Getting possession quickly and getting it out quickly will ease a lot of chasing in the defensive zone, especially tonight against a speedy group of Montreal forwards.
Carey Price is the backbone of this Montreal team. He is just 1-4-0 in his last five starts, but was brilliant in his last outing compiling a save percentage of .938 despite taking a 3-1 loss. Patience will be a virtue against Price, who regardless of recent results is still a top NHL goaltender.
Pregame begins at 6:30 PM on MSG Network (TV) and 98.7 FM ESPN (Radio)
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