Game 4, Eastern Conference Quarter Finals
Montreal leads series 2-1.
Rangers vs. Canadiens -7:00 PM MSG, NBCSN, 98.7 FM. Online streaming is available on nbcsportss.com or the NBC Sports app.
After one of the most listless and pitiful displays I have ever seen from the Rangers in the playoffs, the Rangers try to rebound to avoid going down 3-1 in the series. After lamenting that the team played only 50 minutes in game 2, the team showed us how little they could try by doing nothing for all 60 in game 3. What has been a legitimately excellent series for Lundqvist has been overshadowed by the poorness of the team in front of him.
I’ll be watching tonight’s game on a delay because of parenting responsibilities. Doesn’t RR Jr. know that it’s the playoffs!? Clearly, this is a HAV.
Tonight’s probable lineup for the Rangers, via Brett Cyrgalis (@brettcyrgalis):
Jimmy Vesey-Derek Stepan-Rick Nash
Chris Kreider-Mika Zibanejad-Pavel Buchnevich
JT Miller-Kevin Hayes-Mats Zuccarello
Michael Grabner-Oscar Lindberg-Jesper Fast
Ryan McDonagh-Dan Girardi
Marc Staal-Nick Holden
Brady Skjei-Brendan Smith
The big news of course is that Pavel Buchnevich is expected to draw in for Tanner Glass, playing in a top 6 role with the struggling Chris Kreider and Mike Zibanejad. This line was gangbusters in the preseason and early in the year before Mats Zuccarello started his season in Buchnevich’s spot. The line has not been reunited since, but anything to spark Zibanejad and Kreider is something that has to be tried. Buchnevich will also see time on the power play, however, the largest problem with the power play, to my eyes, is about poor breakout and zone entry, which Buchnevich is unlikely to help with.
Also so of note is that Nick Holden draws back in for Kevin Klein after sitting for a game, playing alongside Marc Staal. Klein was bad, but certainly no worse than Holden was in game 2. To me, the bigger issue here is that Brendan Smith falls back to the third pair with Brady Skjei. Frankly, he’s been the best defender in the right side this series. I know AV would never do it, but Skjei and Smith should be playing more minutes than Staal and Holden. Henrik Lundqvist gets the start.
The Canadiens are not expected to make any changes from game 3, having found more balance in their lineup.
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