Vigneault: Rangers respect Habs, consider them favorites

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Teams often like to be considered the underdogs, so perhaps it was a matter of gamesmanship on Rangers coach Alain Vigneault’s part, but he gave a glowing review of the Montreal Canadiens ahead of the Eastern Conference Final.

“I know they went into the Boston series saying that they felt Boston didn’t respect them. We respect Montreal quite a bit,” Vigneault told the Bergen Record. “They’re not only a very strong team, but they’re a team that has beaten the No. 1 team in the NHL right now, a team went to the Stanley Cup Finals last year, a team that beat the New York Rangers in five games last year.

“So, we know that we’ve got our hands full.”

Vigneault thought the Canadiens were the underdogs against Tampa Bay and Boston, but he feels they’re the favorites versus New York. He noted that the pressure that comes with that role might do “funny things” to them.

He’s also been reviewing footage of Montreal’s playoff games thus far and hasn’t found anything that the Rangers can exploit. When that statement was shared with Canadiens coach Michel Therrien, he started to laugh.

“That’s a media game,” Therrien said, per NHL.com’s Аrpon Basu.

Game 1 will be played in Montreal on Saturday (1:00 p.m. ET, NBC).