Montreal will head into this one knowing that defeat will see them crash out of the Stanley Cup playoffs. The Canadiens trail 3-2 in the seven match series and a New York victory will end Montreal’s hopes of notching ice hockey’s ultimate prize. Only a win at Madison Square Garden will keep their aspirations alive so what are their chances?
The Habs are renowned for their intense, aggressive style of hockey and Claude Julien may be forced to go all out for the win on Saturday. Given Montreal’s precarious position in the series, the visitors may be forced to attack from the very start – especially if New York adopt a tentative approach given the ultimate prize of reaching the next round.
Montreal are capable of dominating from the front, with 220 goals in 82 outings during the regular season. But that was then and this is now. The Canadiens failed to score in the first match of the series but since then, they’ve shown glimpses of talent. A fluent attack could make all the difference in what might be a tight-knit contest.
KEY MAN: Alexander Radulov. The Montreal star has stepped up to the plate since the start of the postseason, notching six points in five games against New York so far. While he failed to make a positive impression in the most recent encounter, three points in two matches at Madison Square Garden suggests that he could prosper.
The Canadiens are 16/1 to win the Stanley Cup with bet365 and Radulov may thrive under pressure on Saturday night. On his day, he is one of the most consistent players on the team and he has hit top form at the right time – Radulov could swing the series back in Montreal’s favour.
New York Rangers
For the Rangers, the task is simple. Win and you’re in the next round. If they can, avoiding Game 7 could prove crucial come the end of the playoffs. Emerging victorious inside the scheduled matches is always advantageous and New York might go for the jugular on home ice, particularly as Montreal are there for the taking.
The Canadiens have been shipping goals in recent months and New York will be confident of securing the win. With so much attacking talent at their disposal, the Rangers are one of the most underrated teams in the NHL and it might be their time to compete with the biggest and best teams in the business.
KEY MAN: Rick Nash. Like Radulov, Nash has also performed well during the current series and New York will be expecting him to continue his fine run of form here. The Rangers are one victory away from the next round and Nash, who has two goals and one assist in the postseason, might be the difference maker when Montreal visit Madison Square Garden.
Nash had a pretty mediocre regular season but the best players tend to come alive when it matters most of all. To be honest, you probably wouldn’t rank Nash as one of the elite stars in the NHL but he is certainly capable of turning it on when New York need him – watch this space, he could be central once again.
Montreal know that only a win will suffice and the Canadian side might just about edge it if they find their best form. Everybody loves a ‘Game 7’ and a 3-2 win for the Habs will force a deciding clash. On paper, you’d argue that Montreal are stronger than New York and their class could prevail on Saturday night.
CANADIENS 3-2 RANGERS