Happy anniversary. Twenty years ago tonight, Mark Messier delivered three goals and an assist in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference final against the Devils, after his “guarantee” of victory. (Photo by the Associated Press).
Pre-game notes courtesy of the NYR:
NEW YORK RANGERS vs. MONTREAL CANADIENS
Sunday, May 25, 8:00 p.m. ET
Madison Square Garden – New York, NY
Rangers: 10-7 (2-1)*
Canadiens: 9-5 (1-2)*
* Record in the playoffs (record in the series)
The Rangers will face off against the Montreal Canadiens at Madison Square Garden (8:00 p.m. ET — TV: NBC Sports Network; Radio: ESPN 98.7), in Game 4 of their Eastern Conference Finals matchup. The Blueshirts lead the best-of-seven series, two games to one, following the Canadiens’ 3-2 overtime victory in Game 3 on Thursday at MSG. New York enters the contest with a 223-240-8 record all-time in 471 playoff contests (124-93-2 at home; 99-147-6 on the road).
The Rangers entered the 2014 Stanley Cup Playoffs as the second seed in the Metropolitan Division, having posted a 45-31-6 record (20-17-4 at home; 25-14-2 on the road) for 96 points. The Blueshirts are one of four teams, along with Detroit, Pittsburgh, and San Jose, to make the playoffs in eight of the last nine years.
ALL-TIME PLAYOFF RECORDS – RANGERS vs. CANADIENS
The Rangers and Canadiens are meeting in the playoffs for the 15th time, and the first time since the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals in 1996. The Rangers have posted a 7-7 playoff series record against Montreal, and are 27-35-2 in 64 playoff contests against the Canadiens following Game 3. New York has faced off in more playoff series against Montreal than any NHL opponent, and has now faced the Canadiens in at least one playoff series in seven out of the last nine decades.
RANGERS vs. CANADIENS (Regular Season):
• All-Time: 192-324-94-4 overall (127-124-54-1 at home; 65-200-40-3 on the road)
• 2013-14: New York was 1-1-1 overall (0-1-0 at home; 1-0-1 on the road). All three contests were separated by two goals or fewer, and two games were separated by one goal. The Rangers allowed two goals or fewer in every contest, giving up a total of three goals in the three games. Cam Talbot posted his first career NHL shutout against Montreal on Nov. 16, while Brad Richards and Derek Stepan each tallied an assist against the Canadiens during the season. The Blueshirts’ penalty kill was 10-11 (90.9%) in the three contests.
• New York was 20-17-4 at home during the regular season (4-3 in the playoffs); Montreal was 23-15-3 on the road (4-2 in the playoffs)
• New York lists three former Canadiens on its roster: Dominic Moore (2009-10); Benoit Pouliot (2009-10 – 2010-11); Raphael Diaz (2011-12 – 2013-14)
• Montreal lists two former Rangers on its roster: Brandon Prust (2009-10 – 2011-12); Dale Weise (2010-11)
• Rangers’ defenseman Ryan McDonagh was originally selected by the Canadiens as a first round choice, 12th overall, in the 2007 NHL Entry Draft
• Rangers’ Head Coach Alain Vigneault served as the Canadiens’ coach from 1997-98 – 2000-01
INDIVIDUAL CAREER LEADERS vs. CANADIENS (Regular Season):
• Henrik Lundqvist – 27 GP, 13-11-2, 2.84 GAA, 1 SO
• Martin St. Louis – 49 GP, 18-22—40
• Brad Richards – 40 GP, 9-14—23
• Dominic Moore – 28 GP, 4-13—17
• Dan Girardi – 28 GP, 3-6 —9
• Power Play: The Rangers were 0-2 (4:00) in Game 3 vs. Montreal. The Blueshirts are ninth in the NHL overall (10-67, 14.9%), and are 14th at home (3-31, 9.7%) in the playoffs. They have allowed two shorthanded goals in the playoffs: 5/7 vs. PIT (Sutter); 5/17 at MTL (Eller). The Rangers have tallied a PPG in four of their last six games (7-23; 30.4% over the span). New York ranked 15th in the NHL overall (48-264, 18.2%), and 24th at home (20-132, 15.2%) during the regular season.
• Penalty Killing: The Rangers were 2-2 (4:00) in Game 3 vs. Montreal. The Blueshirts are third in the NHL overall (43-50, 86.0%), and are tied for seventh at home (18-21, 85.7%) in the playoffs. The Rangers have not allowed a PPG in the last eight games (22 times shorthanded), and are 30-31 (96.8%) in their last 11 games. The last time the Blueshirts didn’t allow a power play goal in at least eight consecutive playoff games was a 10-game stretch in 1940. New York ranked third in the NHL overall (198-232, 85.3%), and sixth at home (89-105, 84.8%) in the regular season.
• Four-on-Four: New York did not skate in a four-on-four situations in Game 3 vs. Montreal. The Blueshirts are -1 in 19 four-on-four situations in the playoffs (24:26), allowing a goal in Game 3 at PHI on 4/22 (Streit). The Rangers were -2 in 85 four-on-four situations (131:26), and even in one three-on-three situation (1:03) during the regular season.
Alain Vigneault is the fifth head coach in Rangers history to win at least 10 playoff games in one year (Emile Francis – 10 in 1971-72; Fred Shero – 11 in 1978-79; Mike Keenan – 16 in 1993-94; John Tortorella – 10 in 2011-12). Vigneault is the only NHL head coach to win at least 10 playoff games in a year with two different teams over the last four seasons (15 playoff wins with Vancouver in 2010-11).
SHUTTING THE DOOR
New York has allowed two goals or fewer in 12 out of 17 playoff games this year, including five of the last six games. The Rangers allowed two goals or fewer in five consecutive games from Game 5 of the Metropolitan Division Finals on May 9 at Pittsburgh to Game 2 of the Eastern Conference Finals on May 19 at Montreal. The stretch was the first time the Blueshirts allowed two goals or fewer in at least five straight playoff games since a seven-game stretch from Game 4 of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals on Apr. 23, 1997 vs. Florida to Game 5 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals on May 11, 1997 at New Jersey. The Blueshirts rank first in the NHL in goals against per game (2.12) in the playoffs.
Ryan McDonagh leads all players with six points (two goals, four assists) in the Eastern Conference Finals. He is the first Rangers defenseman to tally six points in a two-game span in the playoffs since Brian Leetch in 1995, and the first Ranger to record six points in the first two games of a playoff series since Bernie Nicholls in the Patrick Division Finals in 1990 against Washington. McDonagh registered four points (one goal, three assists) in Game 1 on May 17, tying a team-record for the most points by a defenseman in a playoff game. It was the fifth time a Blueshirts defenseman had recorded four points in a playoff game (Leetch – twice, Brad Park, and Dave Maloney).
Henrik Lundqvist established two franchise records during the 2013-14 season, becoming the Rangers’ all-time wins leader with his 302nd career victory on Mar. 18 at Ottawa, and the team’s all-time shutouts leader with his 50th career shutout on Mar. 22 at New Jersey. The Rangers goalie set an NHL record with his fifth consecutive win in a Game 7 on May 13 against Pittsburgh. Lundqvist has posted a 0.80 GAA, a .973 SV%, and one shutout in his last five Game 7s. Lundqvist is also 5-1 with a 1.50 GAA and a .953 SV% in his last six games. The Rangers goalie won his 40th career playoff game on May 19, becoming the ninth goalie in NHL history to win at least 300 regular season games and 40 playoff games with one team. Lundqvist has started a franchise-record, 83 consecutive playoff games, dating back to Apr. 26, 2006 vs. New Jersey. He is the third goalie in NHL history to start 80 consecutive playoff games with one team (Martin Brodeur – New Jersey, Patrick Roy – Colorado). Lundqvist leads the NHL in wins (10) and SV% (.931), and is tied for first in the NHL in GAA (1.99) in the playoffs this year.
NYR GOALIES ALL-TIME PLAYOFF WINS
1. Mike Richter – 41
2. Henrik Lundqvist – 40
3. Ed Giacomin – 29
DAN’S THE MAN
Dan Girardi leads the NHL in blocked shots (47) and ranks fourth in the league in hits (55) in the playoffs. The Rangers defenseman skated in his 81st career playoff contest in Game 3 on Thursday. Here is where Girardi ranks on the team’s all-time playoff games played list:
NYR ALL-TIME PLAYOFF GAMES PLAYED LIST
2. Don Maloney – 85
3. Ron Greschner – 84
4. Brian Leetch – 82
5. Dan Girardi – 81
The Rangers tallied seven goals in Game 1 against Montreal on May 17, as seven different players recorded a goal. It was the first time the Blueshirts tallied seven goals in a playoff game since Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals on Apr. 17, 2007 vs. Atlanta, and the first time they tallied at least seven goals in a playoff game on the road since they had eight in Game 2 of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals on May 8, 1995 at Quebec. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, it was the first time seven different Rangers tallied a goal in a playoff game since Game 3 of the Patrick Division Semifinals vs. Philadelphia on Apr. 9, 1983.
The Rangers have advanced to the Eastern Conference Finals for the second time in the last three seasons. Since the NHL expanded to a four-round playoff format prior to the 1974-75 season, this is the second time the Rangers have advanced to the third round of the playoffs twice in a three-year span (1979-1981 – reached the Stanley Cup Finals in 1979 and the Semifinals in 1981).
INJURIES (12 Man-Games Lost – Playoffs):
• Derek Stepan – (Fractured Jaw on 5/22)