Two members of the Original Six will square off in the first round of the Eastern Conference playoffs when the Montreal Canadiens take on the New York Rangers. This matchup has looked like a lock for the last few weeks because of the quirky structure of the NHL playoffs with both sides knowing who they were most likely to face. The winner will face a relatively easy path to the playoffs by getting to face the winner of the two top wild cards in the Atlantic Division.
Log on to BookMaker online for all the latest NHL puck-lines, totals, moneylines, and props. BookMaker Sportsbook provides the earliest NHL odds and is your one stop shop for all your betting needs. The Montreal Canadiens and New York Rangers will clash with a trip to the Eastern Conference semis on the line. You can watch all the action on the NBC family of networks.
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Game 1: New York at Montreal (4/12, 7 p.m. ET, NBCSN, CBC)
Game 2: New York at Montreal (4/14, 7 p.m. ET, USA)
Game 3: Montreal at New York (4/16, 7 p.m. ET, NBCSN)
Game 4: Montreal at New York (4/18, 7 p.m. ET, NBCSN)
Game 5: New York at Montreal (If necessary, 4/20, TBD)
Game 6: Montreal at New York (If necessary, 4/22, TBD)
Game 7: New York at Montreal (If necessary, 4/24, TBD)
Although this has been one of his worst seasons, the Rangers are still opting to go with Henrik Lundqvist instead of Antti Raanta in this series. Lundqvist has not been his typical self this year, posting a 2.74 GAA and .910 save percentage and has been awful in Montreal during his NHL career. Facing off against the Canadiens in enemy territory, he is just 4-9-2 with a 3.87 GAA and a .877 save percentage over his career. Lundqvist is not entering the playoffs on a positive note either, allowing 29 goals and posting a 2-6 record over his last eight starts.
Montreal is going to lean heavily on Carey Price in this series. Price has been as solid as ever after coming back from an MCL injury that wrecked Montreal’s chances to make the playoffs last year. He has a 2.23 GAA and a .923 save percentage, but more importantly in terms of this matchup, is 3-0 against New York on the season.
It’s kind of an enigma how the Rangers have been so proficient on offense this season. They have the fourth most goals in the NHL, but aren’t even in the Top 20 in shots on net and their power play is middle of the road. The leading point-scorer is Mats Zuccarello with just 59 points and this team is lacking a go-to guy.
Montreal’s plan on the power play is simple, get the puck to Shea Weber. Good things happen when the Canadiens are able to get Weber open on the man advantage and he can make opponents pay. Weber has 12 goals and 10 assists on the power play this season, with those points accounting for more than half of his total points this campaign. He has rested for the last week, but is ready to make New York pay after notching two goals and an assist on the Rangers in the regular season.
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Montreal and New York met in the Eastern Conference Finals three seasons ago with Lundqvist getting the best of a visibly shaken Price. Lundqvist went 4-1 in the series with a .922 save percentage, while Price allowed 4 goals in his 40 minutes of ice time. Ryan McDonagh was the star of the series with 10 points in six games.
This time around, look for Montreal to get the better end of it. The Canadiens have looked much better and are more defensively stout since Claude Julien took over and Julien knows what it takes to win in the postseason. It will be a long series, but Montreal is better where it counts.
NHL Playoff Series Odds: Canadiens win the series 4-3
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