ECF, GAME 2 MISSION: PROTECT THE KING

MONTREAL, QC – MAY 17: Ryan McDonagh #27 and goaltender Henrik Lundqvist #30 of the New York Rangers celebrate the Rangers 7-2 victory against the Montreal Canadiens in Game One of the Eastern Conference Finals of the 2014 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at the Bell Centre on May 17, 2014 in Montreal, Canada. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

Chris Kreider (l) and Derek Dorsett (r) chat at practice (NYR)

Chris Kreider (l) and Derek Dorsett (r) chat at practice (NYR)

The New York Rangers will have a huge challenge tonight, to play a great road game and go up 2-0 in the Eastern Conference Finals. However, their real mission will be to protect Henrik Lundqvist.

Today we learned that Carey Price has been lost for the remainder of the series. The devastation the Canadiens and their fans must be feeling is terrible. Prior to the injury, Price was easily one of the top 5 goaltenders in the NHL. Now they are faced with playing Peter Budaj and his .843 career playoff percentage or a rookie in Dustin Tokarski.

The dilemma has Michel Therrein and the Canadiens very upset. Words like “reckless” and “accidentally on purpose” have been used and the feeling is that Kreider did not try to avoid Price. Montreal even insinuated that Kreider has a reputation for doing this. Which raises the question; “What will the Habs do to Lundqvist?”

For that I wanted to go to Montreal and get the real feel. Frederic Poulin, Senior Columnist at HabsAddict.com was kind enough to answer some questions.

FTR: What’s the pulse in the City of Montreal after the news?

FP: Most fans are down after learning that Carey Price will miss the whole series. They believe that Michel Therrien should go with rookie Dustin Tokarski who has a Calder Cup and a lot of international experience.

FTR: What’s your thoughts on the play? It clearly shows his skates were hit by a Canadiens stick.

FP: As a hockey player, you know how to fall into a goaltender and while Kreider was clearly tripped, he didn’t do anything to avoid Price.

FTR: How do you feel the Canadiens will respond tonight?

FP: I think the Canadiens will respond by playing a fast and physical game today, dictating the pace and taking an early lead.

FTR: Do you feel that the Canadiens may go out of their way to make contact with Lundqvist?

FP: They will definitely not try to avoid him. Look for a lot of traffic in front of Lundqvist.

FTR: Do you believe they will try and injure him or just make a point?

FP: If the score is not close later in the game, then things will turn ugly. We better hope for a close game tonight.

FTR: What about Chris Kreider? What do you think the Habs will do?

FP: Kreider will be a marked man tonight. He will be hit over and over again. The Habs will chirp him and Prust will invite him to drop the gloves.

FTR: It’s still a 1-0 series, wouldn’t it be wise to maintain composure and focus on just trying to win?

FP: Definitely, but will that happen, we don’t know yet.

I’ve learned that if you want to anticipate how a team might react, you should gauge the pulse of it’s fan base. My take from what I’m seeing is the Canadiens will bump Lundqvist tonight and if it gets out of control, they will run him.

The Rangers must plan for that tonight, and it appears that Daniel Carcillo will be in the lineup to make sure of it. Lost in this hot button topic is the injury to Rangers center, Derick Brassard. He was limited in practice and Dominic Moore performed line rushes with Mats Zuccarello and Benoit Pouliot. Meanwhile, Dan Carcillo took to the ice with Brian Boyle and Derek Dorsett. All of this is adding up to a combustible game 2.

This series is far from over. New York must continue to bring their best into each and every game if they intend on taking advantage of this opportunity. The Stanley Cup Finals are within reach, but winning it all would be impossible without Henrik Lundqvist.

The Mission is simple. The Mission is clear. Protect The King.

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