I can vividly remember my first taste of Stanley Cup adventure.
Our coach and GM was the great John Ferguson, who had five Cups as a player on his resume and he said that the playoffs were a time for wiping the slate clean. What was done, was done. Everyone was on an equal footing. You qualified. You have as good a chance as any team still alive. It was a reassuring exhortation from a guy who had certainly, “been there, done that.”
This is a most grueling championship to win. Fourteen teams didn’t qualify, while 16 did. Sixteen wins are what it takes to have one’s name etched on the Stanley Cup. The ice gets smaller and the consequence of a good play – or a not so good play – loom larger. Every run includes a story or two that wasn’t foreseen. Having depth and health is significant. The odds are against winning and yet until you are out, you are in. This is a tremendous time of the year.
Montreal revamped around the trade deadline, adding size and grit to a roster that plays with pace. Claude Julien, a Cup winner in Boston, fired by the Bruins was quickly hired by the Canadiens and his three-zone discipline is clearly evident with this Montreal team.
The Rangers success has been predicated on playing with speed and precision. Out of the gates in a hurry with an entertaining productive style, the Blueshirts have not been quite as precise down the stretch. They will look to once again re-establish their identity; one based on fast pace, high-tempo, and, most importantly, smarts.
According to Ryan McDonagh, this series has the makings of a good one, one that includes, “…two good teams, two really good goaltenders, two tremendous buildings, and two great hockey cities.” I could not have said it any better myself. This should be fun.
3 KEYS TO RANGERS-CANADIENS
The most important position in the game is that much more important now, and you will not get a better matchup in net than the one in this series. Different styles, but equally world-class, and making the key save at the key moment will be essential.
2. NYR Smarts-Precision
The Blueshirts game is one of precision and smarts. What is done with the puck, where it gets advanced to, and where it goes when it is forced to be turned over is the key to success under Alain Vigneault’s style.
Everybody would love to have the puck for 60 minutes. There will be numerous times when keeping it or getting it will be a result of winning or losing the one-on-one battles. You can have all the analytics in the world, but if you are not successful winning the little battles, the analytics do not matter.
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