NHL Betting: Rangers primed to punish Canadiens again to go 2-0 up

Montreal Canadiens – New York Rangers

Such is the nature of play-off hockey that Montreal are awarded a swift opportunity to put right the flat embarrassment they suffered in Game 1.

After doing well to steady themselves after the Rangers pulled out to an early 2-0 lead, a spectacular, petulant collapse saw them concede five goals in six minutes either side of the second intermission.

They were caught out primarily by the speed of the Rangers attack that comes as a big contrast to Boston in the last round, but that should still be an asset they can match moving forward. What was more surprising was the way they suddenly became an undisciplined mess when their passage to this point has been built on composure under emotional pressure.

To make things worse for Montreal, their headline news coming into tonight is that coach Michel Therrien is yet to announce the status of star goalie Carey Price, who sat out the third period on Friday. I will be astounded if the Habs can win the series without him and even one or two games in the hands of backup Peter Budaj could be decisive. Either way New York are available at 2.30 to get above the 2.5 goal mark again which seems a fair call.

Ending up with seven goals on the night was undoubtedly beyond what the Rangers imagined going in, and even Rick Nash finally managed to break his play-off duck.

The quickness that's been mentioned comes from guys like scoring leader Matz Zuccarello, Chris Kreider and Carl Hagelin, with Alain Vigneault deserving credit for giving them more responsibility as well as the confidence to turn up on the ice as soon as they collect the puck.

Martin St. Louis also adds to the rush as well as a real creative influence, and he seems to be relishing being back together with previous Stanley Cup winning teammate Brad Richards.

I didn't think it was all bad up front from the Canadiens, with Henrik Lundqvist making some timely stops and David Deshairnais's top line just needing a bounce to go their way.

Although you'd expect a response from Montreal, the way they failed to cope with New York's speed and the uncertain health of their goaltender means it has to be the Rangers tonight.


Best Bet: New York Rangers to win at 2.75.