After a restful couple of days, it’s time to get the Eastern Conference Final started.
The New York Rangers and Montreal Canadiens each came away with seven-game victories in the second round and for the Rangers that made two consecutive series that went seven. Do the Rangers hit a wall any time soon or do they find a way to put a team away early? It’s only one of 1,000 questions that can be asked in this series.
With the Habs having home ice, they’re hoping things turn more like they did against Tampa Bay than they did with Boston. Hey, at least they’ve already earned the Rangers respect, right?
Game 1: Montreal Canadiens vs. New York Rangers (1:00 p.m. ET — NBC)
There are legitimate curiosities for both teams going into this series, but perhaps the biggest one is how Henrik Lundqvist will fare.
Lundqvist’s history playing in Montreal is legitimately terrible. He hasn’t won at Bell Centre since 2009 and in four appearances there since that last victory, he’s 0-3-1 with an abysmal .862 save percentage. If those numbers don’t change in a hurry, the Rangers are in it deep or need Cam Talbot to play the part of the road game savior. If ever there was a time for King Henrik to figure it out it’s now.
Add in the fact Rick Nash is still looking for his first goal of the playoffs and you’d think the Rangers are doomed, yet here are the Canadiens in their first Eastern Final since 2010 when Jaroslav Halak led them deep into the postseason. Now it’s on Carey Price to be the man and, like Lundqvist, he’s been outstanding in the playoffs.
Unlike the Rangers, however, Montreal doesn’t have a big time player in a big time offensive funk. Their attack has been spread out well through the postseason and P.K. Subban has led the charge with four goals and 12 points. Subban is one of four players with four goals while Thomas Vanek has five.
These teams are separated by just over 350 miles and are Original Six squads that haven’t met in the playoffs since 1996. It’ll be fun to add another chapter to their history.
It sounds like the Philadelphia Flyers have some work to do if they hope to avoid an arbitration hearing with Brayden Schenn.
The session would take place on Monday, so the clock is ticking.
While the differences in opinion aren’t outright enormous, the Flyers still need to clean up their cap situation, so every $1 million counts. That – plus the length of a deal – seem to be the issue for the 24-year-old forward and the Flyers, according to Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman:
Brayden Schenn arb: PHI: $4.25M year 1 and just under $4.37 year 2. Player ask: $5.5M for one year
With the Flyers aiming for a two-year agreement while Schenn just wants one, it’s not quite as simple as merely saying “split the difference.”
Then again, that general logic could prove helpful. Perhaps the best path to a deal would be for the Flyers to edge closer to $5.5 million while convincing Schenn to sign for two years rather than one?
The physical forward really started to show why he was the fifth pick of the 2009 NHL Draft last season, setting career-highs in goals (26), assists (33) and points (59).
He’s coming off of a two-year, $5 million contract, so Schenn can take heart in realizing he’s heading toward a healthy raise even if he doesn’t get everything he’s asking for.
When the adrenaline wears off after a big hit or violent fight, fans will want to see results on the scoreboard and in the standings. It remains to be seen if the Oilers truly made strides in that regard during a summer of change.
On the bright side, their wunderkind star and expensive new addition are at least on the same page.
Report: Las Vegas NHL team asked permission to speak with Capitals assistant GM
Ross Mahoney was hired by McPhee to be the director of amateur scouting for the Caps which he did for 16 seasons before becoming assistant general manager. If you thought the team drafted well during McPhee’s tenure, Mahoney is a major reason why.
The Caps are in a tricky position here. Denying employees the chance to seek other opportunities looks bad, but then again the Capitals don’t want to see their entire office raided by Vegas.