Rene Bourque lead the way for the Montreal Canadiens against the New York Rangers on Tuesday night with 3 goals, and just missed an empty goal for his fourth. It was the first hat trick by a Canadien player in a conference final since 1975: when our Guy Lafleur accomplished this fete. The rest of the Habs points were well spread amongst the team. As usual … with these two teams … there was a lot of rough play. Montreal had 8 and New York had 13 penalties. The Rangers’ John Moore was issued a matched penalty for a vicious attack on Dale Weise. (Obviously he will be given further levies.) The Canadiens played well and wisely and didn’t show any desperation for the must win. I feel that Dustin Tokarski deserved a star for his heads-up performance against 26 shots and some stellar saves in the third. Can the Canadiens win two more? With smart play and not letting themselves be intimidated (avoid the penalty box), maybe they can just pull it off a win at the MSG and bring the series back to Montreal for game 7.
The Chicago Blackhawks have one more kick at the cat to stay in the running for the Cup. After another cat – astrophic meeting with the Los Angeles Kings on Monday night, They now face 2 games at home … they must win … and if so. …they would have to play a seventh in Los Angeles. Even I … who has watched the prowess of the Blackhawks for many years … cannot see them overcoming the difficult, no impossible situation they have played themselves into.
Giving up a short handed goal to the New York Rangers in the first period Sunday night did not bode well for the Montreal Canadiens, who had a 0-13 record in power plays in the series. P.K. Subban scored Montreal’s first power play goal of the series two minutes in to the third knotting the score @ 2-2. There was no more scoring and the game went into overtime. Unfortunately for the Habs Martin St. Louis scored @ 6:02 of the extra period and the Canadiens go home for Thursday night’s game down 3-1. I have been faithful to this point, but unless the Habs can capitalize on the frequent penalties the Rangers get (and perhaps manage to overcome the Rangers’ speed and toughness) I can’t put much hope on Montreal winning 3 games in a row. I picked the Chicago Blackhawks, Montreal Canadiens, Anaheim Ducks and the Pittsburgh Penguins to possibly be in contention for the final play off; but two of my choices are gone and my other two are pretty iffy. Tonight my Hawks meet the Los Angeles Kings in L.A. and I have every hope that they will be up to the challenge and prove to me ……”That no matter what position they are in …. they can come back “. Now they have to prove it!
I hate to quote the Chicago Blackhawks Motto again, but the position they are in right now needs some positive results to prove they really stick behind what their Motto says. That the Hawks would lose 7-2 in their own arena is something that I cannot yet get over. Their performance against the Los Angeles Kings Saturday night; makes me wonder where My TEAM OF OLD has vanished to. After taking the shellacking they had suffered at home one would have thought they would have been out for redemption. Things looked pretty positive when Jonathan Toews got a short handed goal @ 5:26 of the first period, but the Kings retaliated less than a minute later with a goal by Slava Voynov. Toews scored again @13:19 and the period ended 2-1 Hawks. Then Los Angeles took over and scored 3 unanswered goals and @ 11:17 of the third were up 4-2. Patrick Sharp scored with 5 seconds left in the game, but the Kings won 4-3. The Hawks had 3 power play opportunities, but spent more time chasing the puck in their own end. I am questioning whether the Kings are that good, or whether the Hawks have lost their capabilities. If they don’t win the next game they will go home down 3-1. I am beginning to lose faith.
The Montreal Canadiens were virtually in a must win situation Thursday night after having fallen 2-0 behind to the New York Rangers in the series. It was the usual scrappy game between these two teams, who loved to hate one another. Montreal was up 2-1 at 16:58 of the 3rd period. Dustin Tokarski had stopped 35 shots and until 19:31 it looked like the Habs had won the away game. Unfortunately the 37th shot by Chris Kreider was tipped into the net and another OT came into play. Fortunately Alex Golchenyuk scored on a rebound @1-12 and the Canadiens pulled one out of the hat. With the Habs down only one game now, their is still hope that the team can even the score and … hopefully … go home with at least a tie. They have not been the team that we saw play in the last two games of the previous series, but perhaps they will stay out of the scraps and play the games that they are capable of. Even though my prediction of 5 is gone … I still have faith. For the many who have predicted 6 … it is possible … but I will settle for 7.
The Chicago Blackhawks were in complete control of their second game against the Los Angeles Kings for the first 42 minutes of their game Wednesday night … having scored two goals. Then @ 18:14 of the second period the Kings took over and flew all over the Hawks … scoring 6 unanswered goals … to win the game 6-2. Jeff Carter led the way with 3. Marian Hossa, , Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane were virtually non- existent. To say that I am shocked … is an under statement. The Hawks had better live up to their Motto or they are “dead ducks” in the water. So much for … home ice, it was a debacle!
After the Montreal Canadiens’ stellar performances in the final two games of the previous round, it is difficult to visualize that this is the same team that most Canadian fans had … no doubt … that the third series would go no further than six against the New York Rangers. I personally have lost my Guru status. The first game was an absolute debacle, which most of us thought was lack of being prepared for the feisty Rangers. Next game will be a new ballgame! Max Pacioretty scored an unspectacular goal @ 6:14 of the first period, but Ryan McDonagh answered for the Rangers 17 seconds later. Pacioretty and P.K Subban tried to put some spark into the game, but the team was just not focused. The Canadiens had come this far, but they looked out of steam. The next game goes to New York and you can bet the Rangers will be fired up for themselves and their fans. Hate to say it, but if Montreal has nothing better to show, I’m afraid the series is all but over. It is unfortunate that goalie, Carey Price was not able to play, due to a knee injury, but Dustin Tokarski, who was playing his first game in a play off series, started out well, but he did not get a lot of support from the rest of the team. Although Tokarski comes with a few good accolades, I am questioning the management facing him with this game for his opening introduction ; when there must be another goalie in their roster with a little more experience at this level.