Montreal Canadian’s head coach Michel Therrien isn’t afraid of shaking things up ahead of game three. Montreal forward Thomas Vanek found himself playing on the fourth line in Montreal’s Wednesday morning skate.
Vanek was moved down due to lack of effort in this series so far. He does have four goals to his name from the previous series, but has been silenced so far in the Eastern Conference Finals.
Therrien also announced that rookie goaltender Dustin Tokarski will start for the Canadians in game three. Tokarski stopped 27 shots in game two and ended the night with a .900 save percentage. This is a very bold move by Therrien.
The 24 year old rookie goaltender had a pretty decent game even though they lost. But the idea that Dustin Tokarski will be able to outlast Henrik Lundqvist on the road seems very unlikely.
Peter Budaj has had far more playoff experience and has also had to come in relief of Carey Price for a considerable amount of time this past season as well. However, perhaps getting selected for a second straight start ahead of Budaj will give Tokarski the confidence required to get the Canadians back in the series.
It’s a huge gamble. The Anaheim Ducks did this exact move with their goalie John Gibson, and it almost worked.
But Henrik Lundqvist is playing so well lately that this strategy will work out for the Canadians. One thing is certain the Montreal Canadians need to find a way to beat Lundqvist. And a good place to start would be for Montreal to start converting their powerplay opportunities.
They had four in the last game and didn’t seem to get anything going. The shots are there, but the Montreal forwards aren’t getting enough traffic in front of the net. Lundqvist doesn’t give out many rebounds, so the best way to beat him is to take away his line of sight and hope for a tip in or deflection. Guys like Thomas Vanek and Brandon Prust need to use their size to gain position in front of Lundqvist and force the Ranger’s defencemen to move out of position.
That way some of Montreal’s point shots have a better chance of getting through, and causing Lundqvist trouble.
That strategy is the only way the Montreal Canadians will get back into this series. If Dustin Tokarski puts in a solid performance and Montreal can score early, the Canadians will have a good chance of stealing a win on the road. But if New York scores early and the crowd gets into it, this series could be over very quickly. I can’t wait to see if Tokarski can handle the pressure and steal a win in New York on Thursday.
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