Three of the final four teams in the 2014 NHL playoffs have been determined, as the New York Rangers and Montreal Canadiens will play each other in the Eastern Conference Final starting on Saturday.
Both the Rangers and Canadiens went to seven games in their respective Round 2 series, with New York coming back from down 3-1 against the Pittsburgh Penguins.
The winner of this next series will head to the Stanley Cup Final, so both teams will likely come out with plenty of energy in Game 1 to set the tone for the rest of the series.
Below is the viewing information for Game 1, followed by a look at a couple of key players to watch for each team.
Date: Saturday, May 17
Time: 1 p.m. ET
New York Rangers
Martin St. Louis
The Rangers traded for six-time All-Star Martin St. Louis back in March, giving the Tampa Bay Lightning Ryan Callahan and two draft picks.
That trade has paid off so far, as St. Louis has been a major contributor in the playoffs.
In 14 games this postseason, St. Louis has had three goals and five assists, with three of those assists coming during power plays.
It's been an emotional roller coaster, however, as St. Louis lost his mother during the postseason due to a heart attack. According to Katie Strang of ESPNNewYork.com, head coach Alain Vigneault announced that the entire team would attend his mother's funeral on Thursday:
We were able to, yesterday, work with the NHL for schedule. Marty's [mother's] funeral was supposed to be Saturday. [They] couldn't move the time of the game, so Marty being the way he is, was able to move the funeral to Sunday. So Sunday, as a team we'll be able to attend his mother's funeral.
The entire team will be playing inspired, and St. Louis will be looking to make his mother proud and help the Rangers win the Stanley Cup.
Time and time again, Brad Richards has been clutch for his team when it needed it most, and he found a way yet again to help lead the Rangers to the next round.
In Game 7 of their previous series, Richards was able to score a power-play goal in the second period. That goal ended up being the game-winner. According to Mike Kelly of NHL Network, the win helped Richards tie Red Kelly for the best Game 7 record in NHL history.
“I love it,” Richards told Pat Leonard of the New York Daily News about Game 7s. “When I retire, I think this is my seventh, these are the games you remember. The biggest thing is finding more. You can’t have a dropoff.”
Richards currently leads the Rangers with nine points this postseason, putting up four goals and five assists.
The Canadiens are a tough team defensively, however, so Richards will need to keep it up in order to help lead his team to the Stanley Cup Final.
In 82 games during the regular season, Canadiens defenseman P.K. Subban had just 10 goals. In 11 playoff games, he already has four, as he's stepped up for his team so far.
Along with those four goals, Subban also has eight assists, giving him a team-high 12 points in the postseason. He was second on the team with 53 points during the regular season.
According to Dan Rosen of NHL.com, Subban felt extra motivated in their last series against the Boston Bruins because he felt that his team was disrespected:
They're a classy organization, but they gave us a lot of reasons to compete a little bit harder and to make sure we were winning battles. I know I'm a guy that feeds off of that, and I know we have a bunch of guys in here that feed off of that as well. When you mix that with the loss that we had last time in Game 7 [in 2011], it's a pretty lethal weapon to have when you're coming into this building. Like I said, there's nothing better than shutting up everybody here.
The Canadiens are hoping that Subban can stay motivated heading into the next series, as the Rangers are an aggressive team that put up 2.61 goals per game during the regular season, so he'll need to focus just as much on defense as offense.
After a somewhat slow start to the last series, Max Pacioretty turned it around just in time to help the Canadiens win Games 6 and 7 to advance to the next round.
In the final two games, Pacioretty came away with two goals and an assist, with one of those goals being the game-winner in Game 7.
Pete Jensen of NHL.com was impressed with how well he played at the end of the series:
Those past two games of the series were what the Canadiens were hoping their forward would be able to do. He was the team's leading scorer this season with 39 goals and 21 assists, and the team needed every point in its series against Boston.
With how well he played in the final two games against Boston, Pacioretty is looking to stay hot heading into this series against New York.
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