With the regular season coming to an end on Sunday, the playoff matchups have been finalized. A matchup was already determined before the end of the season, which involved the Montreal Canadiens and the New York Rangers. Montreal locked down the Atlantic Division, finishing with 103 points. The Rangers had issues all season trying to climb into the Metropolitan Division’s top three. Ultimately they earned the first wild card spot with 102 points.
Despite the one point difference, Montreal can be considered the slight favourite based off of this season’s results. The Habs and Rangers squared off three times this season, with Montreal winning all three times by a combined score of 12-7.
Montreal Canadiens Vs New York Rangers Playoff History
Since 1930, the Montreal Canadiens and the New York Rangers have met in the playoffs 15 times. In that time frame New York hasn’t played any other team more than the Montreal Canadiens. The Rangers have the winning head-to-head record, but just slightly at 8-7.
2014 Conference Finals
This series can be easily comparable to this year’s matchup. Both teams were riding hot goalies into the final four. Carey Price for the Habs went 8-4 with a .920 save percentage and a goals against average at 2.35 with one shutout. Henrik Lundqvist for the Rangers was a leader in his own way. Helping New York to become the first team to make it to the Conference Finals after playing back-to-back seven game series.
New York carried a 2-1 lead midway through the second period when controversy took over. Rangers forward Chris Kreider collided with Carey Price, which ultimately ended Price’s playoffs. Montreal relied on rookie goalie Dustin Tokarski the rest of the way. Henrik Lundqvist stole the show in Game 2, leading the Rangers to a 3-1 win and a 2-0 lead in the series.
The fireworks came out in Game 3. Montreal’s Brandon Prust caught New York’s Derek Stepan with a late hit to the head that resulted in a broken jaw for Stepan. The referees did not penalize Prust for his hit, but he didn’t escape the leagues wrath, as they handed him a two game suspension. Later in that same first period, New York’s Daniel Carcillo ran Prust from behind and was assessed a penalty. Carcillo was obvious upset with the penalty call and pushed linesman Scott Driscoll, which led to an automatic game misconduct and multi game suspension.
Montreal was able to scoop up two wins in Games 3 and 5, but the loss of their best player was too much to overcome. New York would end up winning the series and clinching their first Stanley Cup Finals berth in 20 years.
1996 Eastern Conference Quarter Finals
Montreal jumped out to an early 2-0 series lead, thanks in large part to Vincent Damphousse. He scored two goals in each of the two games, while adding two more assists in the Game 2 win. New York clearly game planned to shut down Damphousse which they did a good job with. Damphousse did not find the back of the net the rest of the series. That’s when Adam Graves and the New York Rangers would take over. Like Damphousse, Graves scored two goals in both Game 3 and Game 4. Then chipped in another one in Game 6. The Rangers would rattle off 4 straight wins to beat the Montreal Canadiens 4-2
1986 Prince Of Wales Conference Final
10 years earlier it was Montreal that pulled off the series victory. New York was fresh off victories against power house teams like Philadelphia and Washington and took their cinderella run into Montreal. The Habs won the first two games by a combined score of 8-3. This series is best remembered for Game 3. The New York Rangers badly out shot the Habs but rookie Patrick Roy‘s 44 save performance and another rookie Claude Lemieux scored his second overtime winner of the playoffs, led the Habs a 3-0 strangle hold on the series. New York would squeeze out 2-0 win in Game 4, but Montreal would end up taking the series in Game 5 with a 3-1 win. Montreal’s dominance continued, beating the Calgary Flames in 5 games to win the franchise’s 23rd Stanley Cup
1979 Stanley Cup Final
The one and only time these two teams battled each other for the Stanley Cup came in 1979. New York quite frankly did not stand a chance. Montreal was in their golden era, as they were challenging for their fourth consecutive Stanley Cup win. New York took Game 1 by a score of 4-1. Montreal would end up winning Games 2-5. Completing the rare accomplishment of four straight titles in a North American league competition of at least 16 teams. The only other team was the New York Yankees. That year’s Selke Trophy winner Bob Gainey also won the Conn Smythe. He finished the playoffs with six goals and ten assists in 16 games played.
These are the recent times these teams have met in the Playoffs. If history repeats itself, Montreal would look to be the winners this season, but we will have to see as the series kicks off on Wednesday.