Ghosts or no ghosts, Montreal haunts Rangers & Lundqvist … Live Chat today at noon

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First, a reminder: We will do a Live ECF Chat today at noon. Be there. Or else.

Here is my column from The Journal News and Lohud.com:

By Rick Carpiniello

GREENBURGH – Alain Vigneault was still very new as the Rangers’ coach. His team was trying to find its way.

It was Nov. 16, and it certainly doesn’t qualify, even today, as a turning point. But Vigneault, who had broken into the NHL head-coaching ranks with the Canadiens, knew that to the Rangers, Montreal’s arena, now called the Bell Centre, was a house of horrors. They had won one of their last 11 visits.

So, Brad Richards relayed Thursday, Vigneault had a talk with his players and assured them, from experience, that there really were no ghosts in the building. Then Cam Talbot went out and blanked the Habs 1-0 for the Rangers’ first win in nine games there. It was also the only goal the Rangers scored against Montreal this season (1-1-1).

See? It’s not impossible to win there. But it sure has been rare for the Rangers, and even rarer for their MVP, who is less than a mere mortal statistically against the Canadiens, whom he will face Saturday in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference final.

Henrik Lundqvist is 4-5-2 in the Bell Centre, plus a no-decision as a rookie when he was pulled after four goals in eight minutes. In his past seven starts in Montreal, his goals-against average is a ghastly 4.53, with a lousy .873 save percentage. That included a 6-5 shootout loss in which the Rangers led 5-0 almost midway through the second period.

Lundqvist has not played in the Rangers’ last four visits, nor in six of seven. Talbot took a 1-0 OT loss there in the season finale, which meant nothing.

Lundqvist was asked about the record a few times on Thursday. As expected, he wouldn’t dwell on the negative. In fact, he laughed a couple of times.

“It’s so long ago since I’ve played there so I don’t really remember,” he said, smiling.

“No, I look forward to go there. I’m excited. I mean, it’s a conference final in Montreal. That’s special, and I’m excited about that. Then, when it comes to my game, I’m just going to try to go out and play the same way and don’t overthink it — try to enjoy it.

“As a goalie when you analyze your game, you have to be careful because, yeah, there’s been some different types of games out there, but there’s been some solid ones as well.”

Lundqvist and Team Sweden also lost to Habs goalie Carey Price and Canada in the Olympic gold-medal game in Sochi. He said he welcomes the challenge of the rematch.

Price, who took the loss to Talbot in November and the win in the OT finale, has five shutouts and allowed one goal total in his last six at home against the Rangers.

It may not be a house of horrors for all the Rangers. Richards — whose Tampa Bay team swept the Canadiens in ’04, winning twice in Montreal — called it “the greatest place to play in our sport.

“I’ve been fortunate enough to play in the playoffs up there, and there’s really nothing like it. I can’t wait to get up there.”

“Montreal,” Vigneault added, “is a great building to play, whether you’re the home team — and I can talk from experience — or whether you’re the visiting team.

“Montreal, they’ve just beaten the best team in the NHL. So we’re going to have our hands full.”

Lundqvist, coming off the eye-popping comeback win over Pittsburgh, doesn’t mind it one bit.

“It’s a great atmosphere,” Lundqvist said. “Any time you play in a building where the crowd is into it, it’s a good feeling when you go in and win and silence them. Your mindset is to go in and win.”

Twitter: @RangersReport

Photo by Getty Images.

 

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123 Comments

  1. Ghosts dwelled in the forum

    The rangers lack of success in Montreal is based on historically stinking compared to the canadiens when the games were played in the forum

    Since 1996, they had a decent stretch including a 5-3 win in a game they were down 3-0 Super Bowl Sunday 2008. Since the 6-5 shoot out loss, the i infamous blow up, there have been a myriad of issues including Lundqvists pedestrian play.

    I think a very different henrik shows up games one and two and a highly motivated, rejuvenated and unified team plays in front of him,

    Just a hunch.

  2. Those are regular season ghosts…for the playoffs they will haunt their hosts and help their guests…especially Rick ” Masher” Nash…stay thirsty my friends!

  3. bull dog line on

    in a great series, the Rangers win in 6. Nash scores 4 goals in the series.

  4. Matty"Rangersin5!!"Boy on

    another day off? Don’t know about them, but I’m ready!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  5. Habs in 6 or rangers in 7. If it goes 7 I believe the hockey gods will have us go through the house of horrors to get to a cup
    Final. It only seems right

  6. Matty"Rangersin5!!"Boy on

    any of our schedule people have any thoughts on the schedule for the series? every other day?

    sat-mon-wed-fri-sat-mon-wed???

  7. Good morning, boneheads!

    Different circumstances, different NY team. I expect MSL to have a big series in his home town. Nash is going to be more engaged knowing he doesn’t have to play against Lucic an Co. Regardless, it’s going to be a great hockey. Speed, skill, superior goaltending. Starting tomorrow, your team is in the elite 4 still standing. What else could you ask for as a fan? oh, yes. The SC.

  8. Mentioned to my wife abot the terrible timing of game 1. 1p on a beautiful late Spring day. She prefers that to Saturday night so our evening isn’t all about finding a restaurant with the game on & constant texts, nhl app, rangers app & the various twitter crap.

    She has a point.

  9. Food for thought from the University of British Columbia:

    Most NHL players peak by age 29: Study

    A new University of British Columbia study identifies when the clock runs out on an NHL player’s peak performance, giving team executives insight into how best to build a roster.

    The study by Sauder School of Business professor James Brander found that the performance of forwards peaks between the ages of 27 and 28. Defencemen are best between 28 and 29, and the performance of goaltenders varies little by age.

    The forthcoming study to be published in the Journal of Quantitative Analysis in Sports also reveals that players performed close to their peak levels for a number of years before and after their optimal peak: 24 to 32 for forwards and 24 to 34 for defencemen.

    “While confirming conventional wisdom that players peak in their late 20s, the study proves it is wishful thinking for managers to expect a player in his mid-20s to continue improving significantly,” says Brander, an economist. “The vast majority of players are at 90 per cent of their best by age 24, although there are a few late bloomers.”

    For the study, researchers used statistical models to estimate a typical player’s career arc.

    Brander says his numbers are reinforced by the current outcome of the Stanley Cup playoffs, with key players like Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews of the Chicago Blackhawks in the prime age range. But he stops short of predicting the ultimate victor based on his study.

    “If we just go by relative age of key players, a team like Chicago would appear to be in the best shape. But that’s far from the whole story in the playoffs. Other things have a big effect, such as injuries and luck,” he says.

    ###

    Background:

    The study is based on stats from the 1997-98 to 2011-12 seasons, considers 2,033 players and a total of 9,901 player years. The researchers looked at points per game played and plus-minus statistics. For goaltenders, they analyzed save percentage.

    The study, Estimating the effects of age on NHL player performance, was co-authored by Edward Egan of the National Bureau of Economic Research and Sauder School of Business student Louisa Yeung.

  10. Just returned from a business trip in the Pacific Northwest to an exciting time…what beautiful scenery out there, snow covered paeks, mountainsides covered by blooming sunflowers and penstemon, and douglas fir…inspiring, hope the Rangers play inspired after they have their first down time since the post-season started! LGR!!

  11. Manny-O-War on

    We really need to split in Montreal or we are done. Absolutely have to take away the home ice situation for them. Have to play HARD in Game 1. Just like you would in a Game 7.

  12. Nice interview in the post, Miami. Thanks for the link.; Some great quotes and insights into player personalities.

  13. Nash is a lucky fellow. His teammates bailed him out.

    He has a reprieve, a chance to erase the words “most epic _superstar_ failure in Ranger playoff history” from his hockey bio.

    Perhaps his effort will improve because he’ll be playing in Canada?

  14. Time for a little Montreal pay-back me thinks.

    Is it a Charloney today or just a Charp?

    LGR!!!!

  15. Matty

    Sat mon Thursday(msg) saturday(msg) first 4. Rest depends on tonight’s winner for games 5-7

    Saw john amirante again this morning at bagel store he told me sat game 4 Memorial Day weekend will be at 8pm not afternoon game.

  16. Pens holding news conf at 11:30. Reports saying Shero gone as gm but not byslma.

  17. Stranger Nation on

    Seriously – that has to be one of the best interviews ever. Whole new level of appreciation for THE kid.

    He is no longer just THE, now he is *THE* as in *THE HUMAN ARTICLE*

  18. Stranger Nation on

    Papa – Nash has played ‘good’ is that not enough? Can’t you appreciate a highly skilled penalty killer taking 25 second shifts and turning the puck over with alarming regularity?

    Some people…

  19. Manny-O-War on

    @TSNBobMcKenzie PIT will announce this morning GM Ray Shero and head coach Dan Bylsma have been fired. #TSN

  20. Manny-O-War on

    Pittsburgh cleaning house is OUR gift. We should appreciate it. WE DID THIS

  21. Papa bear, I was thinking the same about Nash. Goaltenders, line match ups, forecheck speed, offensive speed are all a wash between these two teams. We got thru the first two rounds without Nash but he is now the difference maker between these teams. I think whatever mojo he got from playing on Team Canada will kick in especially in Montreal. The Kreider return has opened up some space the last few games for Nash but he has to utilize it and pot between 3-4 this series. Did you think we would beat the ice chickens in a seven game series if you knew in advance 15 goals would be the max? I think the other significant difference maker will be AV. The Montreal coaching experience will allow him to push the right buttons regarding the Ghosts. Its ironic how the Stanley Cup runs in 94 and 14 talk of ghosts (ours at MSG and Red Dutton and the death of a season ticket holder Ceil Siedel vs the ghosts of the Montreal forum and Mrs St Louis) has become an inspiration and rallying point for our team 20 years apart.

  22. Agree with you on the inteview, Stranger.

    The kid was funny, effusive and very well spoken. It’s rare when an athlete seems to exude honesty like that.

  23. Love fact rangers made this happen.

    Amirante gets whole wheat lightly buttered. I bought him his bagel after game 7 the other night and many times before. Great guy.

  24. Eric – Do you live in Plainview? One of my friends lived down the block from Amirante.

  25. Doodie Machetto on

    I’ve been saying it for years that Shero is not a good GM and Bylsma is not a good coach.

    But I actually think Bylsma a better coach than Shero is a GM. Shero just sucks.

  26. Ty

    I grew up in plainview live in Woodbury next town over.Looking to buy house in plainview.

  27. >>…Whole new level of appreciation for THE kid.

    Okay, but he said he likes Jumbo Shrimp.

  28. >>Pittsburgh cleaning house is OUR gift…

    Didn’t Rangers also force changes in Washington DC a couple of years ago? Didn’t they get Bruce Boudreau fired?

  29. Doodie Machetto on

    3 or 4 for sure. Possibly 6 as well (but seriously, who am I kidding, they aren’t making it to game 6).

  30. Doodie Machetto on

    I’m thinking 3 because it’s easier on my wife for me to just not come home from work than it is for me to just leave her alone with Doodie Jr. on the weekend. Plus they usually have the better giveaway for the first home game of a series.

  31. That’s funny Eric. I also grew up in Plainview. I occasionally see John (and a woman I assume is his wife) on the train after games so I figured he still lived in the area. He seems like a really nice man.

  32. We lose first 2 in the house of horrors series is over in 5. No miracle this time. Must get split.

    Expect a see of habs fans in garden Memorial Day weekend sat night. With easy access to tickets via stubhub they will come in waves.

  33. I also expect alot of Habs fans at Game 4 Sat. night unfortunately . Not looking forward to dealing with that.

  34. Great planning carp, I’m at work so I’m going to miss the charp…wtb??

    Good article btw!

  35. Doodie Machetto on

    I expect Montreal to follow the blueprint laid by the Penguins in game 7: close off the boards to halt the Rangers break out.

    Expect Montreal not to change their attack from how they went at Boston: lots of stretch passes to get breakaways and just an absolutely lethal PP. PK Subban is going to have 5 shots a game.

  36. Two in the box, ready to go, we be fast and they be…yeah, they’re pretty fast too.

  37. The Kreider said he was never recognized…I bumped into The Kreider few month ago in Downtown; nice guy, a bit shy, we had pleasant 10 minutes chat; for sure he was surprised someone recognized him.

  38. i came to laugh with you guys about the penguins blowing it all up and instead i’m laughing about what bagel john amirante eats…

    i’m so glad bylsma got the boot, i think he’s terribly overrated and i think team usa suffered with him at the helm… wherever he goes next he’s gonna suffer by not being able to put crosby and malkin on a line together whenever the going gets tough

  39. I hope Rick continues to shoot from the blue line. He’s really good at getting the puck on net and Price is a really shaky goaltender.

    (s)

  40. Stranger Nation on

    _Playoff shot leader (granted max games) is Rick Nash_

    Playoff Shooting %: 0%

  41. I heard there’s a great article about THE? Anyone have a link?

    Rangers in 6.

  42. Made a few reservations for assorted boneheads at the Tower of London. Enter through Bloody Gate. Be prepared to surrender Passport, all worldly possessions. Bring blankets and a straw basket for head, post guillotine.

  43. Wait, there’s an article about THE Kreider out there?

    Where?!

    How come nobody made me aware?!

  44. Eric, while HEAVILY in debt to Carp hot-dog wise, buys bagels (many bagels) for Amirante. Not my business, just reporting.

  45. If you combine the second and third players in terms of most shots with no goals (Marchand and either Martin or Krejci), they have one more shot together than Nash alone.

  46. Manny’s in court evicting some poor bastard who, like me, is trying to put food on the table.

  47. Doodie Machetto on

    MAYBE PUT A LITTLE LESS FOOD ON THE TABLE AND A LITTLE MORE MONEY IN YOUR RENT CHECK. I’M SORRY FOR THE CAPS BUT I STARTED TYPING IT WITH THEM ON AND WAS TOO LAZY TO DELETE IT AND RETYPE WITHOUT THEM.

  48. Last year Jagr was shut out on 58 shots. The year before leader was our boy McD at 36.

  49. Stranger Nation on

    _Eric, while HEAVILY in debt to Carp hot-dog wise, buys bagels (many bagels) for Amirante. Not my business, just reporting_

    lines at Walter’s snaking down the street last weekend, but no Eric in line

  50. A bit crazy to realize that in 2007 Montreal drafted these three players in a row

    McDonagh
    Pacioretty
    Subban

    Talk about nailing it.

  51. iManny-O-War on

    Doodie: isn’t it amazing that the technology does not exist to just highlight some characters and select “all caps” or “normal”?

  52. Stranger Nation on

    Pimp – cannot believe that is not posted on @THEKREIDER twitter feed yet

  53. ‘One double or nothing away from being even’ That’s what they all say just before someone else says, ‘Leave the gun, take the cannoli.’

  54. iManny-O-War on

    @DownGoesBrown: A reminder that the Penguins could have drafted Jonathan Toews instead of Jordan Staal in 2006 and won every Stanley Cup.

  55. Guys, maybe someone can help me:

    I’m looking for an article that gives me deeper insight into THE Kreider … his relationship with AV and Torts … his best buddies on the team … maybe even a look at some of his hobbies?

    But it has to be an article that incorrectly mentions his nickname as “Easy Kreider”.

    Anybody ever run across such a piece?

  56. Byslma has to go too.

    Mario prob told Shero to fire byslma he said no so in response Mario says your gone.

    New gm may not want byslma.

    If your byslma if you were to be let go later date then prob be better off now so you could land job

  57. It’s crazy, Orr. Pittsburgh then could have actually traded Malkin for a real goalie and 2 amazing D. They would have won every single Cup for a decade.

  58. I’m an optimist and I do believe in miracles BUT
    No matter who wins the West, does anyone here really think the East winner can beat them 4 out of 7?

  59. Manny, glad you sent that url. Google search kept sending me to broken links. Great interview that has me pumped for tomorrow. The only thing Nash needs to do to score is follow in THE’s wake for a clear path to the net.

    BTW, I’m contemplating a new name prompted by a link found here… “Wicked Warlock”. I’m not convinced it’s an upgrade.

  60. On twitter, some dude asked a Boston beat writer if the Bruins should consider trading Lucic straight up for Malkin to shake things up.

  61. Doodie Machetto on

    “Mario prob told Shero to fire byslma he said no so in response Mario says your gone.”

    I doubt that was the case because then Bylsma would have been fired today also. If ownership says the coach has to go, why even make it an option for the next GM to keep the coach?

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