Five Keys to the Game: Habs-Rangers #6
A profitable hat trick: Hats, caps and other pieces of headwear hit the Bell Centre ice on Tuesday night when Rene Bourque scored the first playoff hat trick in Montreal since Eric Desjardins accomplished the feat during the Stanley Cup Finals in 1993. Dating back to the start of the 20th century, when hat-maker Henri Henri traditionally gave a hat to a player who scored three goals in a single game, Canadiens players have scored hat tricks in 33 different playoff series. As for their record when one of their own lights the lamp three times in a single tilt…22 wins and 11 losses. That’s proof positive that a hat trick can yield momentum in any postseason series..
Lucky Thursdays: As mentioned in the keys to the game ahead of Game 5, the Canadiens boast three preferable game days on their calendar – Saturday night, Tuesday night, and, of course, Thursday night. By winning Game 5 (which was held on a Tuesday), the Canadiens forced the playing of Game 6 (which will be held on Thursday). Fortunately, the Habs have been dominant under similar circumstances against the Rangers, having won 10 of 16 meetings with the Blueshirts in playoff tilts on Thursdays.
Making it count: If the Canadiens can find a way to come out on top in Thursday night’s tilt at Madison Square Garden, there’s a good chance they’ll be among the final two teams vying for the Stanley Cup come June. When the Bleu-Blanc-Rouge have won Game 6 on the road, they boast a 3-1 record in Game 7 situations. While winning at MSG come playoff time isn’t easy, it’s certainly possible. The Rangers are 5-4 on home ice during the 2014 playoffs, and Michel Therrien’s troops are responsible for one of those defeats, downing the Blueshirts 3-2 in overtime in Game 3 of their Eastern Conference final series. Here’s hoping for a similar result in Game 6, and a return trip to the friendly confines of the Bell Centre on Saturday night…
Beating the average: Who says parity in today’s NHL also brings with it the possibility of seeing tighter games, tighter playoff series, and above all else, incredible comebacks? Over the course of the last 11 postseasons, one series on average per year has been won by a team trailing 3-1 in the series before storming back to advance to the next round. In 2014, the Kings made that happen in the opening round against the Sharks. The Rangers, meanwhile, pulled off a similar surprise in Round 2, sending the Penguins packing for the summer by winning three straight elimination tilts. Needless to say, the 2013-14 Canadiens are looking to etch their names in the history books in that regard over the next few days…
The Kings of MSG: While many people refer to Rangers netminder Henrik Lundqvist as “King Henrik”, several Canadiens players could very well be considered contenders for his throne at Madison Square Garden based on their past performances at The World’s Most Famous Arena. In regular season play, Thomas Vanek (17 GP, 15 PTS) and Tomas Plekanec (15 GP, 13 PTS) have been dominant. Both Vanek and Plekanec registered one assist each in Game 3, upping their respective point tallies in the Big Apple. Having players like that in your lineup can only help your cause heading into Game 6 on Thursday night.