Montreal Canadiens vs. New York Rangers Game 3: Keys for Each Team
The Montreal Canadiens played much better in Game 2 of the Eastern Conference Finals. The problem is that the New York Rangers played almost as well as they had in Game 1.
Led by Henrik Lundqvist, the Rangers frustrated the Canadiens time and again. Montreal dealt with the Rangers' speed much better than they did in Game 1, but it wasn't enough.
The Rangers return to Madison Square Garden with a 2-0 series lead and a chance to all but bury the Habs with a win on Thursday night.
Let's take a look at the keys for each team in Game 3.
Rangers Need More of the Same from King Henrik
While the Rangers' offence has been strong in the first two games, Lundqvist's game has been very good.
He didn't have to be outstanding in Game 1 with the Rangers playing so well in all facets of the game, but he had to be exemplary in Game 2.
Lundqvist stopped 40 of 41 shots and faced down a barrage in the third period from the desperate Canadiens.
His .976 save percentage was outstanding, and if he continues playing anywhere near this level in New York, this series could be over in four games.
Look for the Canadiens to send all kinds of traffic his way in Game 3. He'll stop everything that he sees.
The Habs Need to Be Flying
The Canadiens cannot afford a slow start on Wednesday night at MSG.
The always loud and knowledgeable crowd in New York will know they have an opponent on the ropes. The joint will be hopping.
The Rangers know that they can effectively end the Habs' hopes if they can win Game 3.
It's a cliche, but Montreal's best players, have to be their best players. Max Pacioretty, Lars Eller, P.K. Subban and Brendan Gallagher all have to play at an elite level.
The Canadiens may be able to catch the Rangers on their heels, as there is likely to be an inevitable letdown for New York after playing so well in Montreal.
Montreal dominated the Corsi battle in Game 2, per Extra Skater, but the Canadiens cannot continue to battle from behind.
Chasing the Rangers will not be easy if the Habs come out slowly and get behind once again.
Veteran Rangers Must Continue to Lead by Example
Martin St. Louis, Rick Nash and Brad Richards have been very good up front for the talented Rangers.
With the passing of St. Louis' mother and her recent funeral, the team has rallied behind the veteran winger.
St. Louis has been exceptional in the series, and Alain Vigneault has finally got Rick Nash going as well. Nash has his first two playoff goals in this series against the Canadiens.
Vigneault has also nurtured Brad Richards this season. The Murray Harbour, Prince Edward Island native has rebounded after seeing his confidence take a hit under former coach John Tortorella.
He has 10 playoff points this spring.
These veterans are leading from the front, and the Rangers are in good hands because of it.
Tokarski Needs to Channel Ken Dryden
Dustin Tokarski has been thrown into the deep end of the pool. There's no life jacket. He's going to either sink or swim.
Michel Therrien announced that Tokarski will be the starter after Wednesday's practice session, per the Canadian Press (h/t CBC Sports).
The rookie was good in Game 2, but in all likelihood he'll need to be outstanding in Game 3.
The Rangers know that Tokarski is no Carey Price, so there is no way for the Canadiens to intimidate the Rangers whatsoever.
Back in 1971, rookie goaltender Ken Dryden was spectacular for the Canadiens; Tokarski needs to channel his inner Dryden starting in Game 3.
Tokarski may have to outplay Lundqvist as the series wears on if the Canadiens want to play for the Stanley Cup in June.
Rangers' Power Play Needs to Keep Firing
The New York power play has been on fire in the Eastern Conference Finals.
The power-play units have produced four goals in the first two games, and Vigneault will be looking for more of the same.
With the Canadiens' issues in goal a lot will fall to their penalty-killing units, who have to be better in front of Tokarski.
It was Peter Budaj who let in three of these goals in the third period of Game 1, but the Rangers have looked dangerous on almost every single man advantage.
If they keep winning the special-teams battle, their five-on-five play will not need to be as good as it has been to keep winning.
P.K. Subban Needs to Be the Best Hab
It's not that P.K. Subban has been invisible against the Rangers. It's more that he's had so much pressure put on him in his defensive role that his dynamic offensive play has been muted at times.
This is uncharted territory for him, and he's going to have to elevate his play if the Canadiens have any hope of coming back in this series.
Subban is good enough to win games on his own, and there would be no better time than to do that in Game 3.
With Carey Price on the shelf, no other Canadien has the ability to put the entire team on his shoulders.
Montreal fans will be looking for this from the Olympic gold medallist.
All stats can be found on NHL.com unless otherwise noted.