Game 4 at the Most Famous Arena in the World
The Rangers will host the Canadiens on Sunday at Madison Square Garden in New York City with the opening face-off slated for 8:05 PM ET. This will be Game 4 of the Eastern Conference Final series in which the Rangers hold a 2-1 lead. According to NHL betting odds the Rangers are a -165 money line home favorite and the posted total is 5.0. These teams have seen just 1 of their last 12 meetings go over the total. The road team has won 5 of the last 6-games between these teams.
Tokarski Comes Up Huge!
The Canadiens chances looked to be extremely dim heading into Game 3 at Madison Square Garden on Thursday. After all, they were without their star goaltender Cary Price who went down with a season ending leg injury in the season opener, they trailed 2-0 in the series, and were starting a goaltender that was making just his 4th start of the season. Well Dustin Tokarski was that goaltender, and he was far from in awe of the moment. Tokarski was brilliant in stopping 35 of 37 Rangers shots on goal during the Canadiens 3-2 overtime win, which catapulted them back into the series. In 5 appearances with the Canadiens this season Tokarski has certainly accounted himself very well in posting an excellent .937 save percentage. Putting things in perspective, Tokarski was 20-19 this season with the AHL Hamilton Bulldogs with a 2.38 GAA, and a .919 save percentage.
Despite the odds being stacked against them coming back to win the series right now, this is still a very dangerous Montreal Canadiens team. They've gone 11-4 in their last 15 road games which includes 5-2 during the Stanley Cup Playoffs. They also are winners of 20 of their last 29-games overall.
Still in the Driver's Seat but...
Even though they squandered an excellent opportunity to take a stranglehold of this series by losing Game 3 at home, the Rangers can take solace in knowing they still maintain home ice advantage thanks to winning the first 2-games of the series on the road. However, that doesn't mean they don't have cause for concern. All you have to do is take a look at the Rangers' uneven play at home this season. Despite being one of the best road teams in the NHL this year, they've gone just 24-25 at home, including 4-4 during the 2014 playoffs. Adding more concern for Rangers' backers, is the fact that they've gone a dismal 1-12 the last 3 years during the playoffs when they have a lead in the series. On a positive note, Henrik Lundquist has been outstanding this postseason going 10-7 in 17 starts with a 1.99 GAA and a .931 save percentage. In addition the Rangers have gone an extremely profitable 17-4 this season following a 1-goal loss.
The Canadiens regained their confidence with their Game 3 win, but still remain in a high urgency mode. The Rangers have inexplicably struggled to win at home this season, and if Dustin Tokarski gets off to a very good start in Game 4, there will be a distinct possibility he will be inside the the Rangers' heads. I will go with the large road underdog for the 2nd time in a row in this series.
Free Pick: Canadiens +155 over the Rangers