This is going to be a battle of goaltenders; Price vs Lundqvist. The question is who else will step up in this series. One team is coming off an amazing series comeback, while the other finished off a bitter rival in 7 games. Each will come into the series with confidence. Let’s compare each team:
The goaltending pretty even, in my opinion, as they are two of the best goaltenders in the NHL. This will probably be a low scoring series. They both shutdown two of the best offensive teams in round 2. Lundqvist stopped 102 of 105 (.971 sv%) shots in the final three games of the series against the Penguins, while Price stopped 55 of 56 (.982 sv%) shots in the final two games of the series against Boston. The Rangers have been the best defensive team in these playoffs, with a GAA of 2.14; the Canadiens, on the other hand, are the top offensive team with 3.27 goals for per game, of which 7 of their 11 games played were against Tuuka Rask, another elite goaltender. The a Rangers’ offense has not been strong, though, while the Canadiens’ defense has also been good.
There are a couple things that factor into the offense. For the Rangers, the star players have been quiet for the most part, none more than Rick Nash, who still only has one goal in the playoffs as a Ranger. On the Canadiens, though, key players such as Pacioretty and P.K Subban have contributed, as well as role players like Daniel Weise. He has three goals and five points in these playoffs. It will be very tough for New York if their stars continue to struggle. Another factor is special teams. The Rangers’ powerplay was horrible up until the last three games versus Pittsburgh, going 0 for 36. The Canadiens are around 25% on the powerplay (over 30% against a strong Boston penalty kill). It helps having a powerplay specialist like Subban, who has a rocket of a shot from the point. Montreal’s penalty kill has been very good itself, averaging around 86%.
I am going with Montreal. In the end, it comes down to who gets the most production, which favors the Canadiens.