Canadiens, Rangers see crashing the crease a tricky part of playoff hockey

Goalies Price, Lundqvist get rough ride

MONTREAL — While fans in both New York and Montreal are upset at the rough treatment goalies Henrik Lundqvist and Carey Price have endured in their five playoff meetings so far, neither the Rangers nor Canadiens seem to see it as a big deal.

Lundqvist and Price have been outstanding in their NHL Eastern Conference quarter-final thus far but both have also had to put up with heavy bumping in the crease.

It even led to a rare playoff fight between New York’s Brendan Smith and Montreal’s Andrew Shaw in the first period Thursday night after a pileup in the Rangers crease.

“It’s a message but I’m not out there trying to send a message,” Smith said Friday before the Rangers’ return to New York. “The thing is, we’re trying to take care of Hankie (Lundqvist).

“He’s playing really well so they’re trying to get their bumps and we have to protect him. I think they kind of crossed the line a little bit there. Those things happen. Shaw is a warrior. He tries to go to the front of the net and I’ve got to make sure that can’t happen. We want to protect our goalie. We don’t want to see him get hurt from guys jumping or falling on him. Sometimes you have to answer the bell.”

New York leads the best-of-seven series 3-2 after Mika Zibanejad’s overtime goal Thursday night gave the Rangers a 3-2 victory. They can advance to the second round Saturday night with a home-ice victory.

After Montreal’s 4-3 overtime win in Game 2, it was the Habs who took heat for not jumping to Price’s defence when he was run over in his crease by Rick Nash. But Canadiens’ players and coach Claude Julien downplayed the incident, saying it was just a good player going hard to the net.

Montreal fans are sensitive to the issue because Price was knocked out of the opening game of the 2014 Eastern Conference final when the Rangers’ Chris Kreider crashed into him.

Nothing that extreme has happened so far, but both goalies have had to deal with forwards invading the crease. Sometimes the referees call it, but like with most playoff infractions, usually they let it go.

Smith, acquired from Detroit on Feb. 28 for two draft picks, said nastiness in front of the net is just part of playoff hockey. The trick is to get the job done while avoiding anything that will give the other side a power play.

“Both teams are walking the line,” he said. “There are a lot of guys who kind of waver, myself included.

“I’ve had refs say ‘You’re on the line now.’ I understand that. They have (Brendan) Gallagher, Shaw. They’re always on that line but you have to make sure you don’t cross it because you can’t give up power plays. That’s when you get hurt. Our team’s been doing a pretty good job of that.

“Sometimes you’ve just got to suck it up. It’s kind of that old mentality _ take a number and figure it out later.”

That has been the message from Rangers coach Alain Vigneault as well.

“In this game, you learn that you’ve just got to play,” he said. “Hand pass goal, go out and play.

“Too many men on the ice goal, just go out and play. Don’t worry about it. Just keep playing. That’s what we’re telling our guys. Skate, pass, shoot. That’s what we’re trying to do.”

The Rangers are expecting even more intensity from the Canadiens on Saturday night. All five previous games have been close, with a bounce or a hit goalpost making a difference. Montreal had an edge in play in Game 3 in New York but the Rangers had it in Game 4.

Back in Montreal, the Canadiens were on top for most of the first two periods but once rookie Brady Skein tied it late in the second, the Rangers took over. They outshot the home side 10-3 in overtime until Zibanejad ended it at 14:22.

“It’s still amazing,” Zibanejad said the following morning. “It’s still one of the most important and greatest goals I’ve scored.

“But now it’s done and we have to get ready for the next game. We put ourselves in a really good spot and gave ourselves a great opportunity to close this out on home ice and not have to come back.”

Bill Beacon, The Canadian Press

Just Posted

Nearly $500,000 available for internships with northern B.C. First Nations governments

Funds announced through partnership with Northern Development and Government of Canada

Terrace husband and wife honoured for saving each other’s lives

BC Ambulance presented each a Vital Link Award for separate incidents of CPR

$15 million spent on cancelled transmition line

BC Hydro had already spent approximately $15 million on planning a new… Continue reading

New funding available for industry innovation

Northern Development Initiative Trust opened new funds, focused on areas impacted by the pine beetle

Former resident wins filmmaking award

Veronika Kurz will be able to make her film with $15,000 cash and in-kind services, up to $100,000

Solitary-confinement veto a chance to address mental health: advocate

B.C. Supreme Court made the landmark ruling Wednesday

Winter storm coming to B.C. this weekend

The bets are on as to how much snow the province will actually get in the coming days

B.C. civil rights group files complaint about RCMP arrest of man who later died

Dale Culver, a 35-year-old Indigenous man was arrested in Prince George last July

Lawyer says former B.C. government aide ‘barely guilty’ in ethnic vote scandal

Brian Bonney pleaded guilty to a breach of trust charge

Quite a few tears as homemade quilts distributed to residents of Ashcroft Reserve, Boston Flats affected by last summer’s fire

Quilters in B.C. and Alberta worked through the summer and fall to create more than 100 quilts.

Island Health: No need for alarm in wake of Victoria needle-prick incidents

Three incidents in a week prompts meeting between health authority, city service providers

B.C. coast loggers celebrate history, hope for improvement

Truck Loggers Association awaits B.C. NDP government’s new direction

Global Affairs aware of report of two Canadians kidnapped in Nigeria

The foreigners were heading south from Kafanchan to Abuja when they were ambushed around Kagarko

Whistler role in potential Calgary Olympic bid would be welcome: IOC

Calgary is mulling whether to vie for the 2026 Games, and could look to facilities in B.C.

Most Read