Entering the 2011-12 American Hockey League season, the Connecticut Whale roster featured three former Quebec Major Junior Hockey League stars, who all at one point were teammates in the junior development league. And just a month ago, the Whale was provided with another former QMJHL star after the parent New York Rangers made a trade with the Washington Capitals (parent club of the Hershey Bears).

Leading the pack of four forwards is two-time Calder Cup Champion with Hershey, winger Francois Bouchard, who the Rangers’ acquired for blueliner Tomas Kundratek. Bouchard, 23, joined the Whale with zero points to his credit, after playing in nine games with the Bears’. The younger brother of Minnesota Wild forward Pierre-Marc Bouchard was taken 35th overall in the 2006 NHL entry draft by the Capitals, following a stunning season in “The Q” with Baie-Comeau Drakkar.

The Sherbrooke, QC, Canada native began his junior career as a second-round pick of Baie-Comeau in 2004. In his first season with the club, he recorded just 24 points (11 goals and 13 assists) in 54 games. Bouchard took a major step forward during his draft year in 2005-06, when the right-winger led his club in points with 102 (33 goals and 69 assists) in only 69 contests. His play only improved during his third season with Baie-Comeau, when he led the entire QMJHL with 125 points (45 goals and 80 assists) in 68 games. His scoring potential was evident, and Bouchard became a professional with Hershey during the 2008-09 campaign.

Since joining the Whale, the fourth-year pro has scored once and assisted twice in 11 games. He is a minus-1 rating, has six taken three minor-penalties along with 13 shots on goal. Though the former 20-goal scorer continues to struggle in finding his scoring game with this season, Coach Ken Gernander continues to use Bouchard as a top-6 forward and also gives him some power-play time. If Bouchard can re-discover his scoring touch, then he will be able to make more of an impact with his new club. The 6-foot-1, 188-pound, winger, has an impressive shot and is a good passer. For now his impact on the Whale has been limited, but as the season progresses, expect Bouchard and his Calder Cup experience to step up.

Next in line is second-year pro, center Kelsey Tessier. The Whale signed Tessier, 21, last summer after the forward played in his fourth QMJHL season. Originally drafted by the Colorado Avalanche in the fourth-round of the 2008, he was not signed by the NHL organization which allowed the Whale to take him.

Similar to Bouchard, the 2006 pick of the Quebec Remparts (fourth-round) was a pretty good point producer throughout his junior career. In his rookie season with Quebec, Tessier recorded 50 points (23 goals and 27 assists) in 63 games. During his draft year, 2007-08, the Fredericton, NB, Canada, native led the Remparts in scoring with 81 points (36 goals and 45 assists) in 68 games. In his fourth and final QMJHL season, Tessier played in 39 games with the Remparts and recorded 41 points prior to being sent to the Moncton Wildcats at the trading deadline. He collected 12 points in 15 games with Moncton, followed by an impressive playoff performance in which he totaled 30 points in 21 contests.

Tessier became an AHL rookie last season with the Whale, and he played mostly a bottom-6 role with the club which resulted in a 28 point season, with 75 games played.  He also recorded one assist in six playoff games. This season, Tessier has a more prominent role with Connecticut, and is relied on as more than just a bottom-6 forward. The speedy, two-way center receives plenty of penalty-killing time on a unit with veteran Jordan Owens, and he has proven to be an effective defensive-forward. Although he continues to play in a bottom-6 role with the club during even-strength minutes, Tessier’s importance to the team increases with each game. Aside from his work in the defensive zone, the 5-foot-9, 170-pound, center, is a decent in the face-off circle and he has become one of the Whale’s physical energy players. Tessier continues to battle for an NHL contract in the near future, and his current play this season could earn him one.

The final two players are both AHL rookies with the Whale, in former Remparts’ forwards Jonathan Audy-Marchessault and Ryan Bourque.

Audy-Marchessault, 20, signed with the Whale as an undrafted NHL free-agent after participating in four seasons with the Remparts. The diminutive forward was drafted in the 12th round of the 2007 (QMJHL) draft by the Remparts. It was not until his final year with the team that he exploded offensively with a team-leading 95 points (40 goals and 55 assists) in 68 games. In his second act last season, Audy-Marchessault collected 33 playoff points in just 18 games. The Remparts fell short of a QMJHL championship, but the Cap-Rouge, QC, Canada, native, left an impression on several Rangers’ scouts, which resulted in the Whale offering and signing him to a contract.

The first 23 games of his rookie season have been a success. Audy-Marchessault leads the entire Whale team with 22 points (eight goals and 14 assists), and he also leads with 53 shots on goal. Though he is not the biggest skater on the ice (5-foot-9, 175-pounds), ‘JAM’ receives plenty of ice-time from the Whale coaches as the teams’ second-line center during even strength, and the power-play. Audy-Marchessault is not a one-dimensional player, either, as the center excels on the penalty-kill and even has a short-handed goal. He is a highly-skilled player, with tons of scoring potential. Jonathan hopes that his play will result in more interest from NHL clubs next summer, including the Rangers, and possibly an entry-level deal.

Bourque, 20, had a rocky start to his pro-career, enduring an injury just three games into the 2011-12 season. The upper-body injury forced Bourque to miss seven games with the Whale, but since his return, the former Quebec-league star has been of Connecticut’s most consistent performers.

Just a little background on the Whale freshman: he was drafted in the third-round of the 2009 draft by the Rangers as a member of the US National Development Program (U-18). The Remparts were in possession of his QMJHL rights, and that is where Bourque decided to develop his skills. He had the best rookie season of each player mentioned, recording 43 points (19 goals and 24 assists) in 44 games with Quebec. That season (2009-10), Bourque played with current Whale teammates Tessier and Audy-Marchessault on the Remparts. In his second and final season with the Remparts (2010-11), Bourque was the third best scorer with 59 points in 49 games.

As a rookie, Bourque has scored two goals and three assists in 16 games so far this season, but his lack of scoring should not alter your opinion on the top Rangers prospect. Bourque has not been relied on as a scorer for the Whale this season. Instead, the Topsfield, Massachusetts, native, makes his impact as an important penalty-killer and a vital energy player for the Whale. In recent games, the winger has earned extra playing time through his physical play, and was even considered one of the only players who showed up physically for his club during Sunday’s loss to the Binghamton Senators. It is this type of play that will intrigue the Rangers scouts and coaching staff.

Though “The Q” has been very kind to the Whale, the Rangers very rarely pick a player from the QMJHL during the draft each June. In fact, they only have one prospect that is currently a member of the junior league. That player is big-bodied defenseman, Samuel Noreau who plays for Baie-Comeau. He will not turn 20 for another two years, making him ineligible to play an entire season with the Whale until 2013-14.

The Whale may still decide to sign players from Quebec’s top NHL development organization, though, as the impact of these players has been greatly appreciated by the club; especially after 23 games this season.

Chad Kolarik update; could Pavel Valentenko receive a suspension?

Forward Chad Kolarik tweeted today that he expects to be skating with the Whale by January. This is very good news for both Kolarik and the Whale, as the scoring forward has been absent from the teams’ line-up all season after tearing his ACL during training camp in September. He is still not expected to play until March.

Blueliner Pavel Valentenko was given a five-minute major and a game-misconduct on Sunday for an illegal boarding penalty against a Binghamton forward. A suspension has not been dealt to Valentenko yet, but I have been told to expect one in the next day or so. Valentenko also appeared to hurt his hand or wrist on the play, but there has not yet been a confirmed report of an injury.

Follow me on twitter for coverage of the Whale and more @NickPerri_SNYRB

Email me at nickpnyrwriter@gmail.com.

Tags: CT Whale, Nick Perri

New York Rangers center Derek Stepan (21) celebrates scoring a goal during the second period against the Ottawa Senators at Madison Square Garden. (Adam Hunger)
New York Rangers center Derek Stepan (21) celebrates scoring a goal during the second period against the Ottawa Senators at Madison Square Garden. (Adam Hunger)

4/23/17 | 10:49PM: The NHL has announced the schedule for the Rangers and Sens:

  • Thursday 4/27 in Ottawa: 7PM
  • Saturday 4/29 in Ottawa: 3PM
  • Tuesday 5/2 at MSG: 7PM
  • Thursday 5/4 at MSG: 7:30PM
  • Saturday 5/6 in Ottawa: TBD*
  • Tuesday 5/9 at MSG: TBD*
  • Thursday 5/11 in Ottawa: TBD*

*If necessary

10:30PM: The Rangers and Senators will begin their second round series this Thursday, April 27, in Ottawa. (Shannon)

The rest of the schedule has not been released yet.

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Apr 6, 2017; Boston, MA, USA; Boston Bruins goalie Tuukka Rask (40) stops Ottawa Senators center Derick Brassard (19) during the shootout in the Ottawa Senators 2-1 shootout win over the Boston Bruins at TD Garden. Mandatory Credit: Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports (Winslow Townson)
Apr 6, 2017; Boston, MA, USA; Boston Bruins goalie Tuukka Rask (40) stops Ottawa Senators center Derick Brassard (19) during the shootout in the Ottawa Senators 2-1 shootout win over the Boston Bruins at TD Garden. Mandatory Credit: Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports (Winslow Townson)

The Ottawa Senators defeated the Bruins in OT on Sunday to clinch their series over Boston 4-2.

The Rangers will face the Senators, and former Ranger, Derick Brassard in the first round.

The Rangers defeated the Senators in 7 games in the first round of the 2012 playoffs.

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 (Adam Hunger)
(Adam Hunger)

Heading into last night's game Mats Zuccarello had 1 goal, 0 assists, a minus two rating, 14 PIM and an average of 21:17.

Last night Zuccarello had two goals on 2 shots, including the game winner, and played 18:28.

Video

Tags: Mats Zuccarello
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Apr 22, 2017; New York, NY, USA; New York Rangers right wing Mats Zuccarello (36) celebrates with teammates after scoring a goal against the Montreal Canadiens during the second period in game six of the first round of the 2017 Stanley Cup Playoffs at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports (Adam Hunger)
Apr 22, 2017; New York, NY, USA; New York Rangers right wing Mats Zuccarello (36) celebrates with teammates after scoring a goal against the Montreal Canadiens during the second period in game six of the first round of the 2017 Stanley Cup Playoffs at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports (Adam Hunger)

Alain Vigneault said on Friday that the Rangers aren't getting a lot of PP opportunities in games or getting many opportunities to practice it.

He said that the Rangers are trying to pick up on some cues where they might be able to get better and added "I'm telling myself and our group that we are due and hopefully" game six will "be the time."

On Saturday, before Game 6, he said again that the Rangers were "due" to score on the PP.

On Saturday in Game 6 the Rangers scored their first PP goal of the series when Mats Zuccarello beat Carey Price.

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Apr 22, 2017; New York, NY, USA; New York Rangers right wing Mats Zuccarello (36) celebrates with teammates after defeating the Montreal Canadiens in game six of the first round of the 2017 Stanley Cup Playoffs at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports (Adam Hunger)
Apr 22, 2017; New York, NY, USA; New York Rangers right wing Mats Zuccarello (36) celebrates with teammates after defeating the Montreal Canadiens in game six of the first round of the 2017 Stanley Cup Playoffs at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports (Adam Hunger)

Montreal ended the first period up 1-0 and with a 11-6 shot advantage and a 28-15 shot attempt advantage.

The second period ended with the Rangers up 2-1 and a second period lead of shots 12-9 and attempts, 21-20. (Hockey Stats)

Mats Zuccarello said that after the first intermission the Rangers talked about how they were losing every battle and how that wasn't acceptable. (NY Post)

Zuccarello said that the Rangers "came together as a team" between the first and second and put together a "solid win." (NY Post)

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 (Adam Hunger)
(Adam Hunger)

Brendan Gallager said after the game that it was a close series but one where the Rangers did "a few more good things" than the Habs did. (Rangers Game Notes)

Alex Radulov said that the bottom line was that the Habs couldn't get past Henrik Lundqvist. (NHL.com)

Shea Weber said that the Rangers were the better team and deserved to win. (NHL.com)

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Apr 20, 2017; Montreal, Quebec, CAN; New York Rangers head coach Alain Vigneault during the third period in game five against Montreal Canadiens of the first round of the 2017 Stanley Cup Playoffs at Bell Centre. Mandatory Credit: Jean-Yves Ahern-USA TODAY Sports (Jean-Yves Ahern)
Apr 20, 2017; Montreal, Quebec, CAN; New York Rangers head coach Alain Vigneault during the third period in game five against Montreal Canadiens of the first round of the 2017 Stanley Cup Playoffs at Bell Centre. Mandatory Credit: Jean-Yves Ahern-USA TODAY Sports (Jean-Yves Ahern)

Alain Vigneault met with the media on MSG following the Rangers win in Game 6 and said:

  • On Game 3 to now, "without a doubt a lot of focus and character. We didn't play real well in Game 3 and after playing pretty good in Montreal and coming 17 seconds away from having a 2-0 lead, it was 1-1 and we didn't play real well and our guys responded. They responded by playing hard and playing the right way and you gotta give credit to Montreal and they came at us hard, competed real hard. At the end of the day it was a hard fought series and our goaltender made some timely saves and we were able to get it done."
  • On the lineup and line changes after Game 3, "it might look good right now obviously but I have a lot of confidence in this group and sometimes you make some little moves and guys respond. A couple of guys after the first couple of games weren't playing as well as we needed them to play. You look at Hayes' line tonight, I didn't think they were that good the last game in Montreal and tonight they responded with a good performance. That is the way the game is."
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The Rangers were on the covers of some of the local papers following their Game 6 win over Montreal.

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Apr 22, 2017; New York, NY, USA; New York Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist (30) celebrates an empty net goal against the Montreal Canadiens during the third period in game six of the first round of the 2017 Stanley Cup Playoffs at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports (Adam Hunger)
Apr 22, 2017; New York, NY, USA; New York Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist (30) celebrates an empty net goal against the Montreal Canadiens during the third period in game six of the first round of the 2017 Stanley Cup Playoffs at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports (Adam Hunger)

Lundqvist was awarded the Broadway Hat for tonight's win.

From the Rangers Game Notes, "-Henrik Lundqvist made 27 saves, and stopped all 17 shots he faced over the final two periods, to earn his 59th career NHL playoff win. Lundqvist is the Rangers' all-time leader in playoff appearances (122) and playoff wins (59), and he also leads all active NHL goaltenders in playoff appearances and playoff wins. Since the start of the 2012 Playoffs, Lundqvist has posted a 9-3 record, along with a 1.53 GAA, a .947 SV%, and 2 SO in 13 appearances in which the Rangers have had a chance to close out a playoff series. Lundqvist has also posted a 7-1 record, along with a 0.96 GAA, a .964 SV%, and 1 SO in eight appearances at MSG in which the Rangers have had a chance to close out a playoff series since the start of the 2012 Playoffs. In addition, Lundqvist has posted an 8-2 record, along with a 1.50 GAA, a .944 SV%, and 1 SO in 10 career appearances at MSG in which the Blueshirts have had a chance to close out a playoff series. He posted a 4-2 record, along with a 1.70 GAA, a .947 SV%, and 1 SO in the First Round against Montreal in 2017."

Tags: Henrik Lundqvist
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The Empire State Building was lit up in Red, White and Blue to celebrate the Rangers series win over Montreal

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GEICO SportsNite: Rangers win 00:01:18
The Rangers defeated the Canadiens, 2-1, on Saturday to take the series and advance to the second round of the NHL playoffs.

Mats Zuccarello scored two goals in the second period to lead the Rangers to a series-clinching victory over the Montrael Canadiens in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference playoff series. >> Read more


First period:

  • 16:19 MON Alexei Emelin; Assists: Alexander Radulov, Artturi Lehkonen 

Second period:

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Brendan Smith said on Friday that the Rangers want to look at tonight's Game 6 as a Game 7 because they don't want to have to return to Montreal for a Game 7. (Newsday)

He said that "anything can happen" in a Game 7 and that they can go "either way." (Newsday)

Smith said that the Rangers need to play a smart game and use home ice as a motivator. (Newsday)

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Alain Vigneault met with the media prior to Game 6 and said (NYR):

  • "I believe that our PP is due. First one in the last game had some real good looks, last one didn't but we are due and hopefully it's tonight."
  • On Nick Holden, "he's been good the last couple of games. When he's on top of his game he is very dependable, makes the right reads when he doesn't have the puck and when he does have the puck he can make some good plays and jump up in the attack when the opportunity is there. He's been a real effective defenseman for us, for the most part this year and he's going to have a good game tonight."
  • On experience, "I think it does. Anytime you have been through something you bring that knowledge with you to the next opportunity. We have an opportunity tonight against a real strong opponent. It's going to take our very best game. The last two games we have been getting better and tonight we will have to be real good and we are very aware of that."
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 (Adam Hunger)
(Adam Hunger)

Alain Vigneault noted that with the Rangers adding Pavel Buchnevich into their lineup they have "balance" across their four lines.

Vigneault said that even with Buchnevich the Rangers can still play a physical game but that they also bring more skill into the lineup.

He said that he wouldn't classify any of his lines as a first, second, third or fourth line and said that this depth and balance allows for the Rangers to roll lines quickly and not be "overly concerned" about matchups.

Dave Maloney noted after Game 5 that having Buchnevich in the lineup makes the Rangers deeper, adds more skill and also puts 27-goal scorer Michael Grabner into a different role. (MSG)

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Apr 20, 2017; Montreal, Quebec, CAN; New York Rangers players celebrate their win against Montreal Canadiens in game five of the first round of the 2017 Stanley Cup Playoffs at Bell Centre. Mandatory Credit: Jean-Yves Ahern-USA TODAY Sports (Jean-Yves Ahern)
Apr 20, 2017; Montreal, Quebec, CAN; New York Rangers players celebrate their win against Montreal Canadiens in game five of the first round of the 2017 Stanley Cup Playoffs at Bell Centre. Mandatory Credit: Jean-Yves Ahern-USA TODAY Sports (Jean-Yves Ahern)

Following the Rangers win on Thursday, Mats Zuccarello said that the Rangers had a "real team effort" and that the players "played for each other," worked hard and had an "unbelievable performance from Henrik Lundqvist. (MSG)

Henrik Lundqvist said that the focus for the Rangers lately has been to "put in everything you've got in every game" and that in both games 4 and 5 the Rangers have done that." (NY Post)

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Apr 20, 2017; Montreal, Quebec, CAN; New York Rangers forward Chris Kreider (20) prepares for a face off during the overtime period in game five of the first round of the 2017 Stanley Cup Playoffs against the Montreal Canadiens at the Bell Centre. Mandatory Credit: Eric Bolte-USA TODAY Sports (Eric Bolte)
Apr 20, 2017; Montreal, Quebec, CAN; New York Rangers forward Chris Kreider (20) prepares for a face off during the overtime period in game five of the first round of the 2017 Stanley Cup Playoffs against the Montreal Canadiens at the Bell Centre. Mandatory Credit: Eric Bolte-USA TODAY Sports (Eric Bolte)

4/22/17 | 5:51PM: Alain Vigneault said that "Chris Kreider was back" around the 15 minute mark of the third period, and OT, of Game 5 and started to use his speed, went to the net and protected the puck.

4/21/17 | Prior to Game 5, Larry Brooks wrote that Chris Kreider needed to go to the net and stop "tiptoeing" around Carey Price's crease as if it was an "active minefield." (NY Post)

In the first four games of the series Kreider averaged 17:11 per game, had 0 points, 8 shots on goal, 12 hits, 3 giveaways, 1 takeaway and 3 blocked shots.

Tags: Chris Kreider
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Alain Vigneault met with the media in Montreal early on Friday and said (NYR):

  • How do you manage playing extra time, "you just continue to play. Overtime is a great part about this game, anybody, on any given night can be the one who makes a difference. This is what is fun about this game. We went out in OT and battled real hard and just went out and played and we were able to get the bounce and the winner."
  • On Pavel Buchnevich, "that was part of the equation, they at some points during the season and early on played well together. Good skill set, real good communication between the three. For those of you who remember, Chris is one of the guys who can speak a little Russian on our team so he helped Pavel early on when Pavel was struggling with his English. Now he is just fake struggling with his English so that he doesn't have to talk to the media (smile). Just one of those things where we put them together and thought that in the second half of the game they really got better."
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 (Pavel Golovkin)
(Pavel Golovkin)

The Rangers have signed 23-year old Russian defenseman Alexei Bereglazov to a contract.

The Rangers were considered the favorites to sign Bereglazov.

Bereglazov is 6-4, 205 and has played in 162 games in the KHL over the past four seasons, 5 goals and 28 assists, and 40 playoff games, including a Championship in 2015-16.

He won Bronze with Russia at the 2014 World Juniors as a teammate of Pavel Buchnevich and was also a teammate of Buchnevich and Rangers prospect Igor Shesterkin in the Euro Hockey Tour last year.

  • Bereglazov, 23, skated in 60 games with Metallurg Magnitogorsk of the Kontinental Hockey League (KHL) this season, registering one goal and 18 assists for 19 points, along with a plus-nine rating and 20 penalty minutes.
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Apr 20, 2017; Montreal, Quebec, CAN; New York Rangers forward Mika Zibanejad (93) plays the puck during the second period in game five of the first round of the 2017 Stanley Cup Playoffs against the Montreal Canadiens at the Bell Centre. Mandatory Credit: Eric Bolte-USA TODAY Sports (Eric Bolte)
Apr 20, 2017; Montreal, Quebec, CAN; New York Rangers forward Mika Zibanejad (93) plays the puck during the second period in game five of the first round of the 2017 Stanley Cup Playoffs against the Montreal Canadiens at the Bell Centre. Mandatory Credit: Eric Bolte-USA TODAY Sports (Eric Bolte)

Mika Zibanejad scored the game winning goal in OT last night and had an assist, 3 shots on goal, 3 shot attempts blocked, 1 that missed the net and 4 hits in 17:53.

Zibanejad said on MSG that after he scored he blacked out.

While presenting Zibanejad with the Broadway Hat last night, Rick Nash said "good players find the puck and the puck finds good players."

Zibanejad said that his goal last night was the most important one in his NHL career and said that there is nothing like winning in OT in the playoffs. (Expressen)

Tags: Mika Zibanejad
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Apr 20, 2017; Montreal, Quebec, CAN; New York Rangers players celebrate their win against Montreal Canadiens in game five of the first round of the 2017 Stanley Cup Playoffs at Bell Centre. Mandatory Credit: Jean-Yves Ahern-USA TODAY Sports (Jean-Yves Ahern)
Apr 20, 2017; Montreal, Quebec, CAN; New York Rangers players celebrate their win against Montreal Canadiens in game five of the first round of the 2017 Stanley Cup Playoffs at Bell Centre. Mandatory Credit: Jean-Yves Ahern-USA TODAY Sports (Jean-Yves Ahern)

In OT last night the Rangers had 10 shots on goal and 24 shot attempts compared to Montreal's 3 shots on goal and 14 shot attempts for.

The Rangers had 3 high danger chances for in OT, Montreal had 0 and the Rangers had 11 scoring chances for and only 5 for Montreal. (Natural Stat Trick)

Derek Stepan said that the Rangers learned their lesson from the OT in Game 2 and played much more on their toes in Game 5 and got a "great effort from everyone. (MSG)

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The Rangers are on the back page of today's Newsday and NY Post.

The Daily News has the Rangers mentioned in the top banner with the headline: "Rangers In Control"

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Alain Vigneault met with the media on MSG following the Rangers OT win and said:

  • On his reaction to seeing the puck go in, "everyone is pretty happy. They came out real hard but I thought that in the second and the third we played better and thought we carried the play in OT. There is no doubt that we got a bounce but we worked real hard and got that bounce."
  • On the PK in the second period, "we lost a bit of momentum early on in the second but the second half of the game and OT we played well and got some good looks, made better plays with the puck. It was a hard fought game, goes to OT, two teams competing real hard."
  • On Zibanejad, "I thought that line, Mika, Kreids and Buch in the third and OT were real strong, not just making plays with the puck but backchecking real hard and spent a lot of time in OT in their end. They had a real strong finish to this game."
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Apr 20, 2017; Montreal, Quebec, CAN; New York Rangers forward Mika Zibanejad (93) reacts with teammates after scoring the winning goal against Montreal Canadiens goalie Carey Price (31) during the overtime period in game five of the first round of the 2017 Stanley Cup Playoffs at the Bell Centre. Mandatory Credit: Eric Bolte-USA TODAY Sports (Eric Bolte)
Apr 20, 2017; Montreal, Quebec, CAN; New York Rangers forward Mika Zibanejad (93) reacts with teammates after scoring the winning goal against Montreal Canadiens goalie Carey Price (31) during the overtime period in game five of the first round of the 2017 Stanley Cup Playoffs at the Bell Centre. Mandatory Credit: Eric Bolte-USA TODAY Sports (Eric Bolte)

Mika Zibanejad scored the OT winner for the Rangers in Game 5 and put them up in the series 3-2.

Derek Stepan said on MSG, "There were four of us standing next to each other, me, Millsy, Hayes and Zucc and we jumped higher than I have ever seen the four of us jump. It's a big goal and we move on."

On the play, Zibanejad said "I just tried to whack it to the net and when I saw it go in I just blacked out and can't remember much more." (MSG)

Tags: Mika Zibanejad
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Apr 20, 2017; Montreal, Quebec, CAN; New York Rangers defenseman Brady Skjei (76) and Montreal Canadiens forward Max Pacioretty (67) battle for the puck during the first period in game five of the first round of the 2017 Stanley Cup Playoffs at the Bell Centre. Mandatory Credit: Eric Bolte-USA TODAY Sports (Eric Bolte)
Apr 20, 2017; Montreal, Quebec, CAN; New York Rangers defenseman Brady Skjei (76) and Montreal Canadiens forward Max Pacioretty (67) battle for the puck during the first period in game five of the first round of the 2017 Stanley Cup Playoffs at the Bell Centre. Mandatory Credit: Eric Bolte-USA TODAY Sports (Eric Bolte)

Mika Zibanejad scored the game-winning goal in overtime to lift the Rangers over the Canadiens, 3-2, on Thursday night in Game 5 of their Eastern Conference playoff series. >> Read more


First period:

  • 12:07 MON Artturi Lehkonen; Assists: Nathan Beaulieu, Alex Galchenyuk
  • 15:56 NYR Jesper Fast (Short Handed); Assists: Mika Zibanejad
  • 16:20 MON Brendan Gallagher (Power Play); Assists: Andrei Markov, Artturi Lehkonen

Second period:

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Apr 5, 2017; Washington, DC, USA; New York Rangers head coach Alain Vigneault stands on top of the bench against the Washington Capitals in the third period at Verizon Center. The Capitals won 2-0, and clinched the Metropolitan Division and the President's Trophy. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports (Geoff Burke)
Apr 5, 2017; Washington, DC, USA; New York Rangers head coach Alain Vigneault stands on top of the bench against the Washington Capitals in the third period at Verizon Center. The Capitals won 2-0, and clinched the Metropolitan Division and the President's Trophy. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports (Geoff Burke)

Alain Vigneault met with the media prior to Game 5 in Montreal and said (NYR):

  • On it being 2-2, "it's a race to four and this is going to permit one of the two teams to be closer to getting to four. I know we are going to be ready, I know they are going to be ready. It's been competitive and hard fought, puck battles, finishing checks and making plays, it should be another great game tonight."
  • On Henrik raising his game against Price, "my understanding of Henrik is that he is motivated every day. He is always trying to be the best that he can be, always trying to be a good teammate and he wants to win. Whether it's Carey Price or anybody else, he wants to help the Rangers win some games. Highly motivated individual and I don't think this situation is any different from any other time."
  • "Sometimes they do, sometimes they don't. At the end of the day players need to go out and play well. Usually the team that players are playing the best at that time is the one that wins. So far it's been pretty even with both teams trying real hard."
  • "I do think we played pretty good in Game 1 and for very good portions of that second game we played some real solid hockey. Both teams, like I just mentioned, are trying real hard and we will try and do the same thing tonight."
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 ( Adam Hunger)
( Adam Hunger)

Derek Stepan said on Wednesday that he is "real confident" that the Rangers are figuring out how they need to play in this series against Montreal. (Newsday)

Stepan said that the Rangers need to take things period by period in tonight's Game 5 in Montreal. (Newsday)

Ryan McDonagh said on Tuesday after Game 4, "the guys were playing on their toes. They wanted to compete, wanted to battle and wanted the puck on their sticks. We proved to ourselves now that there's no reason we can't play like this every time. We have to in order to continue playing here. It's a matter of backing up this win." (Rangers Game Notes)

Larry Brooks wrote that the Rangers played their best game of the year in Game 4 but that they will need to be even better tonight, and in each subsequent game, if they want to win this series. (NY Post)

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Apr 14, 2017; Montreal, Quebec, CAN; New York Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist (30) skates during the warmup period before game two of the first round of the 2017 Stanley Cup Playoffs against the Montreal Canadiens at the Bell Centre. Mandatory Credit: Eric Bolte-USA TODAY Sports (Eric Bolte)
Apr 14, 2017; Montreal, Quebec, CAN; New York Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist (30) skates during the warmup period before game two of the first round of the 2017 Stanley Cup Playoffs against the Montreal Canadiens at the Bell Centre. Mandatory Credit: Eric Bolte-USA TODAY Sports (Eric Bolte)

Henrik Lundqvist said that he feels his game is back to where he wants it to be and said "I feel like I'm playing my game." (NY Post)

Lundqvist said that playing against a goalie like Carey Price makes you "work harder" and that you want to compete and measure yourself against one of the best goalies in the world. (NY Post)

Derek Stepan said that Lundqvist loves playing against top players and said that he competes like a "crazy man." (NY Post)

Tags: Henrik Lundqvist
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11:32AM: The Rangers extra players for tonight's Game 5 are skating in Montreal this morning.

Those players are Tanner Glass, Brandon Pirri, Matt Puempel, Kevin Klein, Adam Clendening, Steven Kampfer, Antti Raanta and Magnus Hellberg. (Cyrgalis)

The Rangers are likely to go with the same lineup as they did in Game 4 on Tuesday, including Pavel Buchnevich and Nick Holden.

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 ( Adam Hunger)
( Adam Hunger)

Brendan Smith led the Rangers in ice time on Tuesday with 22:44 and had 3 more shifts (29) than Ryan McDonagh did (26)

Smith, as Joe Micheletti noted on the broadcast, had at least three different moments during Game 4 where he was on the bench in pain.

Smith, among other incidents, took a, unpenalized, stick to the face and was slashed on the wrist in front of the net.

Tags: Brendan Smith
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Apr 9, 2017; New York, NY, USA; New York Rangers defenseman Ryan McDonagh (27) looks to pass the puck during the third period against the Pittsburgh Penguins at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports (Vincent Carchietta)
Apr 9, 2017; New York, NY, USA; New York Rangers defenseman Ryan McDonagh (27) looks to pass the puck during the third period against the Pittsburgh Penguins at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports (Vincent Carchietta)

Ryan McDonagh played 22:22 on Tuesday and had an assist, 1 shot on goal, 1 shot that missed the net, 4 hits, 2 takeaways and 2 blocked shots.

McDonagh played 8:03 in the first, 6:27 in the second and 7:52 in the third and when he was on the ice at 5 on 5, the Rangers had 12 shot attempts for, 17 against, 4 shots on goal for, 9 against but 1 goal for and 0 against. (Natural Stat Trick)

Alain Vigneault said that McDonagh was "one of our most effective players" in game 4 and added "we know we needed him to do that."

In the series, McDonagh is averaging 25:36 per game and when he's on the ice at 5 on 5 the Rangers have 66 shot attempts for, 93 against, 28 shots on goal for, 51 against and 1 goal for and 0 against. (Natural Stat Trick)

Tags: Ryan McDonagh
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The NHL has announced that the Rangers and Habs will play game 6 at MSG on Saturday at 8PM.

The game will be broadcast on NBC.

Game 5 is tonight at 7PM and Game 7, if necessary, is this Monday at 7PM.

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GEICO SportsNite: Rangers 00:01:26
Michelle Yu reports from Rangers practice as the team prepares to head to Montreal for Game 5 against the Canadiens.

Alain Vigneault met with the media on Wednesday prior to the team traveling to Montreal and said (NYR):

  • "I thought we played a real solid first period and in my estimation it just carried over to the second. We were coming out of our end and getting through the neutral zone with better pace and control and it carried over to our offensive zone play."
  • Does momentum go from game to game, "probably the team that wins says that they have momentum and the team that loses probably says that there isn't momentum. Isn't that the typical answer. I like the way we played yesterday, couple of areas today that we needed to work on, short but to the point practice. We are going to Montreal and we gave ourselves an opportunity. I like how we played in their building so far, felt like we played well in Game 1 and the first 2 periods of Game 2. We have an opportunity and will work real hard."
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Mar 7, 2017; Sunrise, FL, USA; New York Rangers left wing Pavel Buchnevich (89) celebrates his empty net goal against the Florida Panthers in the third period at BB&T Center. The Rangers won 5-2. Mandatory Credit: Robert Mayer-USA TODAY Sports (Robert Mayer)
Mar 7, 2017; Sunrise, FL, USA; New York Rangers left wing Pavel Buchnevich (89) celebrates his empty net goal against the Florida Panthers in the third period at BB&T Center. The Rangers won 5-2. Mandatory Credit: Robert Mayer-USA TODAY Sports (Robert Mayer)

Pavel Buchnevich played 12:23 in his NHL playoffs debut and had 3 shots on goal and 2 hits.

Buchnevich played 5:22 in the first period, 3:43 in the second period and 3:18 in the third period while seeing 1:58 on the PP.

When he was on the ice at 5 on 5, mostly with Chris Kreider and Mika Zibanejad, the Rangers had 12 shot attempts for, 10 against and 8 shots on goal for and 6 against. (Natural Stat Trick)

Tags: Pavel Buchnevich
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Brian Compton and Adam Rotter look back at the Rangers' Game 4 victory over Montreal. The guys discuss Alain Vigneault's decision-making, the struggles surrounding Chris Kreider and Kevin Hayes, and Rick Nash's dominance on the ice. Later, Brian catches up with old friend Dave Lozo to get his take on the series.

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12:13PM: At Rangers practice on Wednesday Nick Holden is skating with Marc Staal and Brendan Smith is skating with Brady Skjei. (Cyrgalis)

Tanner Glass and Pavel Buchnevich are rotating on a line with Mika Zibanejad and Chris Kreider while the other Ranger forward lines remain the same (Cyrgalis):

  • Michael Grabner, Oscar Lindberg, Jesper Fast
  • Jimmy Vesey, Derek Stepan, Rick Nash
  • JT Miller, Kevin Hayes, Mats Zuccarello
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New York Rangers' Rick Nash, left, celebrates with teammate Jimmy Vesey, center, as Montreal Canadiens goalie Carey Price, left, reacts during the second period of an NHL hockey game in Game 4 of an NHL hockey first-round playoff series Tuesday, April 18, 2017, in New York. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II) (Frank Franklin II/AP)
New York Rangers' Rick Nash, left, celebrates with teammate Jimmy Vesey, center, as Montreal Canadiens goalie Carey Price, left, reacts during the second period of an NHL hockey game in Game 4 of an NHL hockey first-round playoff series Tuesday, April 18, 2017, in New York. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II) (Frank Franklin II/AP)

The Rangers ended a six-game home losing streak with their win over Montreal in Game 4 last night.

While chatting with Ray Ferraro on the bench after the game, Derek Stepan said that it felt food to give the fans a win at home. (NBCSN)

Stepan then smiled at Ferraro and said that the Rangers were now on a winning streak at home. (NBCSN)

Henrik Lundqvist said after the game, "It's no secret we've been really disappointed with the way things have been going at home the past two years here in the playoffs, so we needed this win for this series but also moving forward." (Rangers Game Notes)

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 ( Adam Hunger)
( Adam Hunger)

Montreal coach Claude Julien said during his press conference last night that the Rangers were a "better team" in Game 4 than they were in Game 3 and that the Habs "weren't as good." (Rangers Game Notes)

Carey Price said after the game, "they were desperate tonight. They executed a pretty good game plan. You have to give that team credit, they played well tonight." (Rangers Game Notes)

Ryan McDonagh said that the Rangers played on their toes, wanted to compete, wanted the puck on their stick and said " we proved to ourselves now that there's no reason we can't play like this every time." (Rangers Game Notes)

Henrik Lundqvist said that the Rangers worked hard and earned their win in Game 4. (Rangers Game Notes)

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 ( Adam Hunger)
( Adam Hunger)

The NY Post has a picture of Rick Nash on it's back cover today after he scored the game winning goal last night against Montreal.

Tags: Rick Nash
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Alain Vigneault met with the media on MSG following the Rangers win in Game 4 and said:

  • "We knew we had to respond as a group and that is what this group did tonight. It has proved it in the past and we talked about managing the puck better and I felt we managed the puck better and played a better game, able to give ourselves an opportunity for 2 out of 3 and that is what we wanted."
  • On the 4th line, "they played well. We rolled four lines tonight, good pace for us, quick pace and again, when we had the opportunity to finish our checks that is what we did. We needed to respond and we did as a group."
  • On the message after two, "there really wasn't any message. We've been in this situation many times before, you gotta keep skating, keep putting pressure and I felt that is what we did in the third and had a strong period."
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Apr 18, 2017; New York, NY, USA; New York Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist (30) celebrates after defeating the Montreal Canadiens in game four of the first round of the 2017 Stanley Cup Playoffs at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports ( Adam Hunger)
Apr 18, 2017; New York, NY, USA; New York Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist (30) celebrates after defeating the Montreal Canadiens in game four of the first round of the 2017 Stanley Cup Playoffs at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports ( Adam Hunger)

Henrik Lundqvist spoke with reporters following the Rangers win over Montreal in Game 2 (Via the Rangrs Game Notes)

On what this wins says about the team…"We needed our best effort tonight and we got it. All 20 guys worked extremely hard. We had jump from the get-go, we created more chances. Montreal had some good chances in the first, but after that we controlled the game. But as long as it's a one-goal game you never know - a bad bounce or a good play by them and it's a tied game. I think the patience we showed and the confidence in the situation was great to see."

Tags: Henrik Lundqvist
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With the Rangers win in Game 4 they added another Game Puck and another piece to their Stanley Cup picture puzzle.

Rick Nash was also awarded the Broadway Hat.

Tags: Rick Nash
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GEICO SportsNite: Rangers win 00:01:33
Justine Ward gets Lundqvist, Nash, Stepan and Vigneault's reaction to tying the series with the Canadiens at two games apiece.

The Rangers bounced back from back-to-back losses to even their series with the Canadiens at 2-2.  Read more


First period:

  • 11:39 NYR Jesper Fast
  • 18:37 MON Torrey Mitchell; Assists: Shea Weber, Alexander Radulov 

Second period:

  • 4:28 NYR Rick Nash; Assists: Ryan McDonagh

Third period:

  • N/A
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Apr 12, 2017; Montreal, Quebec, CAN; New York Rangers players celebrate their win against Montreal Canadiens after game one of the first round of the 2017 Stanley Cup Playoffs at Bell Centre. Mandatory Credit: Jean-Yves Ahern-USA TODAY Sports
		 (Jean-Yves Ahern)
Apr 12, 2017; Montreal, Quebec, CAN; New York Rangers players celebrate their win against Montreal Canadiens after game one of the first round of the 2017 Stanley Cup Playoffs at Bell Centre. Mandatory Credit: Jean-Yves Ahern-USA TODAY Sports (Jean-Yves Ahern)

Derek Stepan said that he hasn't played "even close" to his best hockey yet and that each player on the Rangers needs to focus on their individual games.

He added, "I think as a whole, our group of forwards believes that we've left a lot of plays out there."

Stepan said, again, that the Rangers need to find the right balance of being a speed team and playing physical, saying that Vigneault says that the Rangers have to put their speed "on display." (NY Post)

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New York Rangers right wing Pavel Buchnevich (89) celebrates scoring a goal during the second period against the Dallas Stars at Madison Square Garden. ( Adam Hunger)
New York Rangers right wing Pavel Buchnevich (89) celebrates scoring a goal during the second period against the Dallas Stars at Madison Square Garden. ( Adam Hunger)

7:04PM: Buchnevich is in and Glass is out.

4:13PM: Alain Vigneault would not reveal his lineup for tonight when he spoke with the media so there is no definite word on if Pavel Buchnevich will make his NHL playoffs debut.

Buchnevich skated in warmups for Game 3 and at practice on Monday skated in a rotation with Tanner Glass on a line Chris Kreider and Mika Zibanejad as well as on one of the PP units.

Tags: Pavel Buchnevich
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 (Rick Osentoski)
(Rick Osentoski)

The Rangers are 0-10 on the power play so far in the playoffs are the only one of the 16 playoff teams that has not scored a PP goal.

The Rangers have had 11 shots on goal on their PP opportunities and the leaders in ice time are: 

  • Ryan McDonagh: 12:15
  • Mats Zuccarello: 11:23
  • Derek Stepan: 10:44
  • Chris Kreider: 9:45
  • Mika Zibanejad: 9:34
  • Kevin Hayes: 7:15
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Alain Vigneault spoke with the media on Tuesday prior to tonight's Game 4 and said (NYR):

  • On the lineup, "I know who I am going to play. I better know."
  • On this core group and their experience, "there is no doubt, experience is a good thing to have. Our guys know that they need to go out, they need to breathe and they need to play. That is what we are going to do."
  • On Buchnevich and the PP, "Our PP has had quite a few areas where it hasn't executed so far. We finished off the season and the PP was giving us momentum and timely goals and I am very confident that tonight we will turn it around. Pavel there or not we have looked at a couple of different areas and we need to execute and that is what we are going to do."
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New York Rangers right wing Brandon Pirri is congratulated by his teammates after scoring a goal against the Los Angeles Kings during the first period at Madison Square Garden. (Andy Marlin/USA Today Sports Images)
New York Rangers right wing Brandon Pirri is congratulated by his teammates after scoring a goal against the Los Angeles Kings during the first period at Madison Square Garden. (Andy Marlin/USA Today Sports Images)

10:37AM: At the Rangers morning skate today, which is supposed to be featuring the Rangers extras, the following players are on the ice:

  • Oscar Lindberg
  • Pavel Buchnevich
  • Tanner Glass
  • Kevin Klein
  • Steve Kampfer
  • Adam Clendening
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 ( Adam Hunger)
( Adam Hunger)

1:45PM: Stepan said that it "kills" this group of players that they haven't been able to win at home in the playoffs lately and said "no one feels worse about it than us when we don't." (NY Post)

10:15AM: Following the Rangers Game 3 loss on Sunday, Henrik Lundqvist "I think we are all feeling like we can do better here at home." (Rangers Game Notes)

Lundqvist added, "we have to give more at home, in the playoffs, or we aren't going to win. We need more; it's as simple as that. We all need to be better in the next one." (Rangers Game Notes)

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