Fearless prediction #1: That’s not the last playoff overtime goal Alex Galchenyuk will score in his career.
Fearless prediction #2: That’s not the last playoff win for Dustin Tokarski.
Fearless prediction 3#: That’s not the last game for which Michel Therrien juggled his forward lines.
A prediction for how the rest of the series will go?
Hey, what am I? Clairvoyant?
What anyone but the most deluded fan can see clearly is the need for your Montreal Canadiens to play better in Game 4 and for as long as this series lasts.
I thought Michel Therrien was being a bit disingenuous when the coach pointed out, during his postgame press conference, that the Canadiens three goals were scored with three different forward lines on the ice.
This gives rise to the erroneous notion that Therrien got a balanced attack from his forwards.
Through three games, that has not been the case.
David Desharnais (18-8 on faceoffs), Max Pacioretty (seven shots directed at Henrik Lundqvist, an assist on Andrei Markov’s goal) and Brendan Gallagher (four of the Canadiens’ 25 SoG) were the only line that troubled Lundqvist and the Rangers D on a consistent basis.
Daniel Brière, Thomas Vanek and Rene Bourque combined for the goal that gave the Canadiens a late-game lead. But they played less than 12 minutes and were largely ineffective.
Until they combined for the winner in OT, Tomas Plekanec, Brian Gionta and Galchenyuk spent little sustained time in the Rangers’ zone. Credit the kid with escaping Marc Staal’s vigilance to drive the net in OT. Lundqvist’s clearing attempt bounced in off Galchenyuk’s chest – one of the too few bad breaks the Rangers have had in this series.
The fourth line didn’t make it onto the scoresheet. Lars Eller was 1-7 on draws, but Brandon Prust had five hits and indicated, early on, that he for one wouldn’t be going down without a fight.
We’ll find out Friday whether the league’s disciplinarians will look into Prust’s hit on Derek Stepan. It wasn’t penalized, but the play cost the rangers the services of Daniel Carcillo – granted, no great loss – and had them looking for Prust, probably to their detriment, for the rest of the game.
If Prust is suspended, Therrien will have to juggle his lines again. That might not be a bad idea regardless.
His OT heroics undoubtedly will boost Galchenyuk’s confidence. I’d like to see him back with Eller for Game 4 because the kid seemed out of sync with Plekanec and Gionta, both of whom are struggling against the Rangers.
Playing with Brière may bring Vanek out of his coma. I’m starting to suspect he was hurt more than the team let on when Vanek became collateral damage to P.K. Subban’s hit on Reilly Smith during the Boston series.
Two days off before Game 4 will help the Canadiens beleaguered defence corps.
Subban played 25:41 and looked out of sorts. P.K. was caught up ice on the Carl Hagelin goal that opened the scoring.
Andrei Markov played 24:37, scored a goal and was on the ice for Galchenyuk’s OT winner. Markov was a steadying influence on his D partner. Alexei Emelin had six hits to lead both teams and was much better – the tying goal that ticked in off his skate notwithstanding – than he’d been in the series’ first two games at the Bell Centre.
After taking his goaltender out of the play that produced Hagelin’s goal, Josh Gorges bounced back to play a solid game and had six of the Canadiens’ 22 blocked shots.
Mike Weaver blocked five shots and was adept at covering up for his own defensive errors. It’s possible Weaver will have a new partner for Game 4; Nathan Beaulieu played less than nine minutes.
Credit the Canadiens with discipline – only two minor penalties, both to Gallagher for O-zone infractions.
And credit them with the character to bounce back from the Rangers’ dominant first period and from the heartbreak of conceding a tying goal with 29 seconds left.
Most of all, credit the goaltender.
Tokarski stopped 35 of 37 shots and couldn’t be faulted for either New York goal. The kid’s third-period glove save on Martin St. Louis will make every sportcast’s highlight package. And Tokarski’s excellence boosted the confidence of his teammates, who bounced back from that horrendous first period to play the home team pretty even.
Josie Gold sees the Toker as the second coming of Ken Dryden.
Fearless prediction: The kid won’t go to law school.