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Buch Brings Balance to the Blueshirts

Luke Skywalker he is not, but just two games into his playoff career, rookie Pavel Buchnevich has already brought balance to the Rangers’ lineup and helped take down the Montreal empire. While the Tanner-Glass powered Rangers fell pray to the Habs’ embrace of the Dark Side, in games four and five, the Rangers were able to deploy a more balanced lineup. In turn, they were able to utilize their speed and skill advantage to earn back-to-back wins to take a 3-2 series lead.

Perhaps Buchnevich’s impact is best measured in the play of the fourth line. As Arthur Staple wrote, “Alain Vigneault called it a ‘subtle little move,’ putting rookie Pavel Buchnevich in the Game 4 lineup and shifting Michael Grabner to the wing on the presumptive fourth line in place of Tanner Glass. What it allowed the Rangers to do was roll four lines pretty evenly throughout the 2-1 win Tuesday night at the Garden, and that speedy Grabner-Oscar Lindberg-Jesper Fast trio was effective once again.

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NYR 2, MTL 1 - Rangers Respond, Overcome MSG Woes

“We’re confident that we’re going to play the right way.”

While not as brash as Mark Messier’s guarantee in 1994, the Rangers captain, Ryan McDonagh, expressed confidence in his team on Tuesday before game four against Montreal. Needing a win to get the Madison Square Garden monkey off of their back, the Blueshirts responded with their best effort of the series to earn a 2-1 win and tie the series at two wins apiece.

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NYR 2, MTL 0 - King Henrik Shines as Rangers Take Series Lead

Henrik Lundqvist was serenaded with sarcastic “Hen-rik” chants in the Bell Centre, where he’s struggled in his career, to start the Rangers’ playoff run, but on Wednesday night, the chants did nothing to get the King off of his throne. He was sparkling, making 31 saves en route to a 2-0 win in the series opener. Thumper Tanner Glass’ surprising’ first-period goal, ended up as the game-winner.

The odds on Glass scoring the first goal of the playoffs for the Rangers were probably pretty slim, so drinks are on you if you placed that bet. Glass’ second-career playoff goal gave the Rangers the lead in a first period in which they were outshot 16-5. His line, with Oscar Lindberg and Jesper Fast, was excellent all night.

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New Faces Can be Rangers’ X Factors

For the underdog Rangers to beat the Canadiens and make a serious run at the Stanley Cup, they’ll need peak performances throughout the lineup. While we know that the Henrik Lundqvist vs. Carey Price battle will have a say in the opening series, the Blueshirts will need elevated performances throughout their lineup.

In 2013-14, we saw Martin St. Louis, who scored three goals in five games, provide a spark when New York topped Montreal en route to the Cup Final.

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Young Forward Depth is Rangers Biggest Advantage

With just one day left before the Rangers begin their opening round series against the Canadiens, much of the pre-series talk has rightfully gravitated around the goaltending matchup of Henrik Lundqvist versus Carey Price. I say “rightfully” because both men are arguably their respective teams’ linchpins, through which any long-term success must be measured against. This isn’t up for debate. Like the majority of teams who play deep into May and June, superior goaltending is often a foundation for their continued success. I even wrote about them myself in my series primer, denoting the matchup as one of the three keys of the series.