The Montreal Canadiens are coming off a win, but know they need to have a better team effort in order to even up their Eastern Conference Final series against the New York Rangers.
Dustin Tokarski was the hero in Game Three, making several key saves and could not be held at fault at either of the two goals he did give up. He will make his third start of the series at Madison Square Garden on Sunday.
At least two Canadiens players, P.K. Subban and Brian Gionta said that they can’t rely on Tokarski to save them every time. I would look to see the Canadiens with a much better effort in the first 10 minutes. They actually played a better third period as well on Thursday. I would also expect to see a motivated Subban which can only mean good things for the Canadiens.
It is reported that Michael Bournival will replace the suspended Brandon Prust in the lineup, and should give the Canadiens a new look on their fourth line which will be more speed-based. It also looks as though Francis Bouillon will replace Nathan Beaulieu on the third pairing.
I don’t really understand sitting Beaulieu, but you could have seen it coming. He played only 28 seconds in the third period and Therrien would rather play a veteran who he trusts. It will be interesting to see how Bouillon reacts as he hasn’t played since the middle of the Boston series.
I would look to see the Rangers try new things to slow down the Max Pacioretty, David Desharnais and Brendan Gallagher line as they have been the Canadiens best line by far the last two games. Look for another head to head matchup between Ryan McDonagh and Gallagher as that should continue for the rest of the series.
Derek Stepan looks to be out of the lineup but the good news for the Rangers is that Derick Brassard looks like he will be back in uniform. Brassard played two shifts in Game 1, and has not been back in the series yet.
Today’s game isn’t as desperate as Thursday’s was but the difference between a 2-2 series and a 3-1 series is very significant. The way I see it, the Rangers can’t really improve much from their last game and the Canadiens can improve a lot. That’s the good news. Now, the Canadiens need to go out there and prove it.