The Montreal Canadiens open the Eastern Conference final against the New York Rangers on Saturday afternoon. Here are five things the Habs need to do to win the seven-game series:
Rattle Lundqvist—King Henrik seems to have a mental block when it comes to playing at the Bell Centre. New York's star goalie is 4-5-2 with a 3.87 goals-against average and .876 save percentage when he plays in Montreal. He has struggled so much, he hasn't even started in Montreal since Jan. 15, 2012, when he was subbed after four goals.
Price vs. Lundqvist—Carey Price allowed one goal in the final two games of the Habs seven-game comeback win over Boston. Lundqvist allowed only one in each game as the Rangers erased a 3-1 Pittsburgh advantage. Price will seek to win the duel between two of the NHL's goaltending elite.
Top line—Montreal's first line of David Desharnais, Max Pacioretty and Brendan Gallagher broke out of a slump in the in final two games against Boston. The Canadiens will need their first unit hot as goals will likely be hard to come by against the defensively sound Rangers.
Stop St. Louis—The Rangers have rallied around veteran Martin St. Louis, whose mother died suddenly during their series with Pittsburgh. He is also a long-time Canadiens killer from his days with Tampa Bay. Stopping St. Louis and the inspiration he brought when he joined them late in the season is key.
Therrien factor—Coach Michel Therrien did a fine job managing his lineup against the Bruins, bringing in Douglas Murray for extra size in mid-series, then replacing him with rookie Nathan Beaulieu. Speed and skill are likely to be factors, and at some point Therrien will need to decide whether to use gifted youngster Alex Galchenyuk, who is about to return from a knee injury.
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