Brendan Gallagher

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Canadiens sound a lot like Wild after playoff exit (without ‘better team’ talk)

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Much like the Minnesota Wild earlier on Saturday, the Montreal Canadiens are stunned to approach the golf courses so rapidly.

Many of the responses after the New York Rangers eliminated them in Game 6 sound a lot like what the Wild uttered, though there’s no potential bulletin board material like Bruce Boudreau’s line about the better team failing to win four games.

Max Pacioretty viewed this early exit as a “missed opportunity” and never really believed that an elimination was coming.

Claude Julien provided parallel comments to Bruce Boudreau, believing that Montreal generated chances but lacked “finish.”

Brendan Gallagher? He worries that this might have been the Canadiens’ best chance, something the Wild must also worry about with a difficult offseason ahead.

Now, it’s likely that most teams speak about being shocked and expecting better after being booted from the postseason.

Still, these reactions do shine a light on the staggering nature of some of these exits. Will the likes of the Blackhawks, Canadiens and Wild struggle to be in such prime positions in the future? With the Sharks needing a comeback against the Oilers, could the trend continue on Saturday?

The bottom line is that, instead of preparing for a Game 7 after winning the Atlantic Division, the Canadiens are packing up their stuff and worrying about re-signing Carey Price. That’s a pretty stunning turnaround, regardless of the soundbytes available.

Andrew Shaw to miss Game 6 with upper-body injury

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Facing elimination on Saturday night the Montreal Canadiens will be making a couple of changes to their lineup.

Two of them will be coaches decisions by Claude Julien. One of them will be because of injury.

Julien confirmed on Saturday afternoon that forward Andrew Shaw will not play in Game 6 due to an upper-body injury. Julien said he is considered day-to-day at this point.

“He’s a big part of our team, but obviously without him it’s an opportunity for other guys to step up,” said Canadiens forward Brendan Gallagher on Saturday to NBC’s Kaitlin Urka. “We say it all the time, guys drop out of the lineup, other guys are going to come in, very capable players and they are going to be able to do the job.”

There will be a number of new players coming into the lineup on Saturday.

Along with Shaw’s absence, the Canadiens will also be sitting forward Torrey Mitchell and defenseman Nathan Beaulieu. In their place Michael McCarron, Brian Flynn and Brandon Davidson will all draw into the lineup.

Through the first five games of the series Shaw has yet to record a point for the Canadiens and is a minus-two with seven penalty minutes. He played 13 minutes in the Canadiens’ Game 5 loss in Montreal, getting into a fight with Rangers defenseman Brendan Smith.

Aside from Shaw’s injury, the surprising move here might be Julien’s decision to take Mitchell out of the lineup because he has played fairly well in the series in his limited role. In his three games during the series he has a goal and is one of the team’s best players in the faceoff circle.

At the morning skate Flynn was centering the third line between Alex Galchenyuk and Paul Byron, while McCarron was skating on the fourth line next to Dwight King and Steve Ott.

Davidson was skating on a defense pairing alongside Jordie Benn.

All of a sudden the Habs are in a tough spot

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It is not lost on the city of Montreal that P.K. Subban and the Nashville Predators just swept the Chicago Blackhawks, while the Canadiens are now one loss away from falling to the New York Rangers.

Nor is it lost on the city of Montreal that Canadiens captain Max Pacioretty — the same guy who had to deny a rift with Subban when they were still teammates, and the same guy who some say pushed for Subban to get traded — has yet to score a goal in these playoffs.

The optics are not great, to say the least. In Montreal, emotions tend to run high when it comes to hockey. And it’s safe to say that if the Canadiens don’t come back to win this series, the fans and the media are going to tee off on this organization.

Watch Rangers vs Canadiens Game 6

“We’re going to learn what type of character we have,” said winger Brendan Gallagher, per Sportsnet. “If you don’t have character, this is the time you’re going to doubt yourself. If you do have character, this is the time where the belief is going to come out.”

Character, you’ll recall, was one of the justifications for trading Subban to Nashville for Shea Weber.

In remarks that sure seemed like a partial rebuke of Subban, Habs GM Marc Bergevin called Weber a “tremendous leader” and a “complete and reliable defenseman.”

“He’s won two Olympic gold medals and he’s a guy who, like Carey Price, has a presence that right away brings credibility to your team,” said Bergevin. “He’ll be a great complement to our captain, Max Pacioretty, and to our leadership group.”

The Canadiens looked to have the Rangers beat after Game 3, a convincing Montreal victory at MSG. But New York bounced back in Game 4, then took Game 5 in overtime at Bell Centre for a 3-2 series lead.

“In order to get through this, we’ll need more from a lot of guys,” Habs coach Claude Julien told reporters. “It’s time for certain players to elevate their game and have that confidence and desire to be better.

Game 6 goes Saturday in New York at 8 p.m. ET on NBC and the NBC Sports app.

Rangers win OT thriller, put Habs on brink of elimination

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The New York Rangers will head back to Madison Square Garden for Game 6 of their first round series with the opportunity to eliminate the Montreal Canadiens.

Mika Zibanejad scored the winner, capping off an overtime period in which the Rangers previously had numerous chances but either couldn’t beat Carey Price or couldn’t control loose pucks amidst the chaos in front of the Habs net.

But in the end, Zibanejad capitalized and New York took an emotionally charged — dirty at times — Game 5 by a final score of 3-2.

The Habs, who received an inspired performance from Brendan Gallagher, who scored and had four hits and five shots on goal, had the lead late in the second period but couldn’t maintain it.

Brady Skjei scored the tying goal with 1:32 left in the second period and the Habs managed only 10 shots on goal in the third period and OT.

While he wasn’t as busy in the second half of the game, credit also has to go to Henrik Lundqvist.

In another epic battle between the goalies, Lundqvist made a huge pad save while facing Max Pacioretty on a third-period breakaway and the game tied.

And when overtime began, it was the Rangers controlling the pace.

Game 6 goes Saturday in New York.

High-impact, knee-to-knee collision between Zuccarello, Gallagher (Video)

Could we see a cruiserweight battle in the New York Rangers – Montreal Canadiens series?

Some are wondering as much, as the disdain between Mats Zuccarello and Brendan Gallagher seems to be building. One might assume that Gallagher was the main culprit, but Zuccarello’s knee-to-knee-hit may be the real catalyst.

Rangers vs. Canadiens: Stream it live on NBC Sports

You can see that hit (and judge it for yourself) by viewing the video above.

Habs onlookers weren’t happy:

Others wonder if we’ll see an especially rare fight.

It wasn’t the only instance of nastiness between the Rangers and Canadiens so far in Game 1.