Montreal Canadiens vs New York Rangers: Eastern Conference Final Preview and Prediction

The Montreal Canadiens and New York Rangers are living proof that competitiveness and good defensive habits usually outdo talent in the Stanley Cup playoffs.

The Rangers were the league’s fourth best defensive team in the 82-game regular season, and the Canadiens were the sixth. Their collective willingness to block shots was a monumental attribute both clubs used to defeat the reigning Eastern Conference finalist Penguins and Bruins in the second-round, respectively.

Now, something’s got to give. However, there is not much separating these two Original Six clubs. Conversely, the two teams are very similar in many ways.

In goal, The Habs ice Carey Price, who was the difference against the Boston Bruins in Round 2. Price won a gold medal with Canada at the 2013 Winter Olympics in Sochi. He defeated Swedish goaltender, and New York Ranger, Henrik Lundqvist.

Price vs Lundqvist is a clash between two of the NHL’s most consistently great net minders, both capable of stealing a series.

The 2014 trade deadline saw the Rangers acquire former Art Ross winner Martin St. Louis from the Tampa Bay Lightning, meanwhile Montreal added sniper Thomas Vanek to their roster. It could be argued these two clubs landed the best players on the market this past March. Interestingly enough, the Kings acquired the other hired gun, Marian Gaborik, and they’re still alive in the Western Conference Final.

When they met this past regular season, the games were close. According to The Globe’s James Mirtle:

I expect much of the same stingy defence in the Eastern Conference Final between the New York Rangers and host Montreal Canadiens.

The Canadiens are the new kids on the block. Since 2012, the New York Rangers have played in seven playoff series’. Over in the West, the Blackhawks have played in seven series’ since 2012 and the Kings have played in eight in that time. The Canadiens have played in three.

Sal’s Prediction: Rangers in 6.

Both the Rangers and Canadiens seem destined to make the Cup Final. Where the Rangers separate themselves from the Habs, for me, is in their recent postseason experience. But truthfully, the team that wants it more will win this one, both clubs are nearly identical in every single way.