Down to the Nitty Gritty in
The Canadiens will be hosting the Rangers tonight at the Bell Centre in Montreal, Quebec, Canada with the opening face-off slated for 8:05 PM ET. This will be Game 5 of the Eastern Conference Finals series that's led by the Rangers 3-1. According to NHL betting odds the Rangers are a -105 money line road favorite and the posted total is 5.0. The Rangers are 2-1 this postseason when they have an opportunity to close out a series. The Canadiens are 2-0 so far in the 2014 Stanley Cup Playoffs when facing elimination. These teams have seen just 1 of their previous 14 meetings go under the total.
The New York Rangers were one of the best road teams in all of the NHL during the regular season. That theme has stayed consistent in the playoffs as they've gone a stellar 6-3 in that role entering tonight. Altogether the Rangers have gone a terrific 29-8 in their last 37 road games this season.
Sir Henrik in Top Form
Henrik Lundquist has been a key catalyst in the Rangers successful playoff run that finds them just one win away from reaching the Stanley Cup Finals. Lundquist has gone 11-7 in 18 starts this postseason with a 1.98 GAA and a .923 save percentage. He's been even better than that in the 4-games during the Eastern Conference Finals posting a stellar .932 save percentage.
Canadiens on the Brink of
The Canadiens were feeling awfully good about themselves entering the Eastern Conference Finals. They had just swept the Tampa Bay Lightning in 4-games, and then upset the #1 overall seed in the playoffs with a 4-3 series win over the Boston Bruins. Making things even sweeter was they would hold home ice advantage for the 1st time in 3 series as a result of the New York Rangers upsetting the Pittsburgh Penguins. Finally, they would be facing a Rangers team that they've dominated in recent history. Then the proverbial roof began to cave in. They were soundly defeated in the opening game of the series by the Rangers 7-2. In the process of that Game 1 loss star goaltender Carey Price went down with a leg injury, and was lost for the remainder of the playoffs. Then a Game 2 loss ensued, and they faced the unenviable task of having to play the next 2-games on the road, in addition to being down 2-0 in the series. They responded in grand style with an overtime win in Game 3 to get themselves right back in the series. Unfortunately the tables turned in Game 4 when they suffered a gut wrenching 3-2 overtime loss, and now enter Game 5 on the brink of elimination.
I take my hat off for the great job that Dustin Tokarski has done in goal for the Canadiens since having to replace Carey Price. However, if given the choice between Tokarski and Henrik Lundquist, even the most ardent of Canadiens loyalists would certainly opt for the latter. The Rangers are a confident bunch right now, and have continued the trend of playing their best hockey on the road during the postseason. The Canadiens surely won't go down without a fight, but my lean here goes to "The Blue Shirts".
Free Pick: Rangers -105 over the Canadiens