Rangers Look To Deny Montreal Home Ice

 

Talbot shutout the Habs last visit. What will NYR do for an encore? (ap)

Talbot shutout the Habs last visit. What will NYR do for an encore? (ap)

The Rangers will wrap up the 2013-14 regular season with a visit to their personal house of horrors, The Bell Centre, to take on the Montreal Canadiens.  While the Rangers – 7-2-1 in last 10 games – main goal will be to try to remain healthy, the Canadiens – also 7-2-1 in their last 10 games – will be vying for a victory to keep alive hopes of home ice advantage in their playoff position fight with the Tampa Bay Lightning.  A Canadiens victory over the Rangers & a Lightning regulation loss to the Washington Capitals on Sunday will do just that.

Staying Healthy & Getting Ready

For the Rangers, Ryan McDonagh will be held out of Saturdays game per coach Alain Vigneault after meeting with the press after the Rangers 2-1 victory over Buffalo & the Flyers loss to Tampa on Thursday.  He will be ready for Game 1 of the playoffs.  Chris Kreider will also remain out as he recovers from his hand injury.  Cam Talbot is expected to get the nod as Henrik Lundqvist has started 19 of the last 21 and is due for a much needed breather.  Talbot shut out the Habs 1-0 in his only career start against them in November.

For the Canadiens, Brandon Prust & Travis Moen are both out with upper body injuries.  Lars Eller will probably be a game time decision as head coach Michel Therrien said after practice on Friday.  Eller has been battling an illness the last few days and did not practice.  Douglass Murray will not be facing any disciplinary action for his borderline hit on the Islanders Johan Sundstrom on Thursday night.  Murray had just returned from a 3 game suspension for a previous illegal hit.  Carey Price is expected in goal.

An Eye on the Playoffs

While both teams have clinched a playoff spot, it is the Habs that have more on the line coming into the game.  A loss would put them on the road for their series vs the Lightning.  While Montreal’s record is pretty even at home (22-13-5)  and away (23-15-3), having the home ice advantage in the first round would be preferential. For the Rangers, it is more about some fine tuning (hello Mart St. Louis!!!) and getting ready for the second season.

Fulltilt Forecast

For the first time in a few seasons, the Rangers will basically be playing a meaningless season finale.  The teams have split their 2 meetings this year with both teams winning on their opponents home ice.  Petr Budaj shutout the Rangers 2-0 at MSG on Oct 28 & Cam Talbot shutout the Habs 1-0 on Hockey Night in Canada on Nov 16.  Both teams are 1-8 on the PP & 7-8 on the PK. Interesting fact is that the Rangers only goal against Montreal this season was scored by the departed Ryan Callahan.

Even though Montreal needs this game, the Rangers want to go into the postseason on a high. Look for a 3-1 NYR win.

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