The first round matchup between the two original six rivals was the first one to be clinched. After a mid-season collapse last season that left them near the bottom of the Conference, the Canadiens finished first in the Atlantic Division with 103 points. The Rangers finished with 102 points, but, being in the Metro Division, could only clinch the first wild card spot.
The matchup premieres two of the best goaltenders in the league. Carey Price has had a phenomenal season, posting a .923 SV% and a 2.23 GAA. On the other side, while Lundqvist has statistically had his worst season with a .910 SV% and a 2.74 GAA, it is not unlikely he can turn it around starting Wednesday, and we might see basically a battle between netminders. After Chris Kreider’s crash into Price in game 1 of the 2014 series, that was something we did not get to see last time.
If Lundqvist and Price continue their trend on the shots each team take per game, Montreal has the advantage by about .4 of a goal per game. That could change if Lundqvist does improve his game, however. Adding shot percentage on shots against into the equation gives New York an advantage by about .34 per game. Both team’s special team units are about equal, but with the Rangers being the 5th least penalized team in the NHL, they should have a bit of an advantage.
There are many factors and what ifs that will come into play in this matchup. I see this being a close series that could go either way. I am going to pick the Rangers to win it, however, in six or seven games.