With the third round set to start less than 24 hours from now, it’s time to
shift our focus away from the Bruins and onto the Rangers. Our mailbag
today features discussion on two important areas, where should Alex Galchenyuk
be slotted when he’s ready to return and who should sit to make room plus some
talk about which New York forwards will pose the biggest threats to the
Assuming Alex Galchenyuk is ready to return in this series, where would
you put him in the lineup?
Simon Aronson: After coming off two big wins to knock off the
Bruins, it is hard to justify tinkering with the lineup. If Galchenyuk is to
take someone’s spot in the lineup he had better be healthy and ready to
contribute. If he is indeed ready to contribute I would put him in Michael
Bournival’s spot with Plekanec and Gallagher. My second choice would be to put
him in Rene Bourque’s spot who after starting the playoffs on tear has gone his
last six games without a point.
Brian La Rose: I’m not rushing to put him back in the lineup,
even if it makes him a healthy scratch. No one seems to remember that
Galchenyuk was not playing well at all prior to his injury (3 goals and 6
assists in his last 30 regular season games) and had the whole team been healthy
to start the postseason, I’m not sure he’d have been playing. This is the
time of the playoffs where lingering injuries have a knack for taking a player
out of the lineup here and there and that’s where Galchenyuk will prove useful
and will get his chance. When he’s in, he should be on the second or third
line which would likely bump Michael Bournival down the depth chart I
expect we’ll see a rotation of players filling the last spot or two up front out
of Prust, Moen, Bournival, Briere, and Galchenyuk. Some will play, one or
two will sit each game. The Habs have strong depth, this is where it will
come in handy.
Alex Létourneau: I’m stumped. I don’t know. How do you change a
lineup that just took out a team many had winning the Stanley Cup? I would have
to assume the usual suspects would be Daniel Briere or Brandon Prust. And even
then, I’d hate to see either one sitting. Based on Galchenyuk’s progress, I
don’t think this will be an issue in Game 1 or maybe even Game 2, which will
give the coaches an idea of the kinds of tweaks to the lineup they’d like to
make in terms of matchups. Barring injury to a player, this is a tough call for
the coaching staff, which I suppose is a nice problem to have.
Kevin Meldrum: If Galchenyuk is ready, you have to play him.
He can be a huge offensive factor plus he scores big goals against the Rangers
as proven throughout his short career (three goals in five games against NYR).
He to me would be a top-6 forward to utilize his skill set but who do you sit,
Bournival, Weise, Prust, or. Mr Clutch Briere? I am not sure so I would wait and see
how the first game goes before making any roster decisions.
Mitchell Tierney: I think the obvious place for Galchenyuk is
playing on the second line with Thomas Vanek and Tomas Plekanec. This probably
wouldn’t be on his regular side, but with the concentration of skill on this
line it would hardly matter. Evidently, Michael Bournival has been good in these
playoffs, especially on that line. But Galchenyuk has more skill, more upside
and his more experience than Bournival, although the latter does have more
playoff experience. It’s tough, because there probably isn’t another slot for
Bournival in the lineup, as Brandon Prust has been looking better with each
game, but that’s the way the playoffs work. The replacement could be him over
Rene Bourque, but even when Bourque wasn’t putting up points in the second round
he still put in a solid effort.
Which Rangers forward poses the biggest threat to the Habs?
Simon Aronson: I would have to say Martin St. Louis. St. Louis
always seems to be able to elevate his game when necessary. However, I see the
depth of the Rangers forward group as more of a threat that any individual
Alex Létourneau: Martin St. Louis. Not that he’s been the force
offensively that I anticipated during these playoffs, but he’s a Quebec native,
and, he’s going through an emotional time. We don’t need to be reminded of what
home boys do to the Canadiens, it’s always tough sledding. But the loss of his
mother brings to light something that athletes have been doing across sports for
years; they bring their respective game to a truly incredible level when faced
with personal tragedy. While I’m not trumpeting tragedy as a good motivator, I
am saying athletes tend to give something more than their all when faced with
unexpected tragedy. Having said all that, this is still a very talented veteran
who has the ability to turn a game. He’s surrounded by capable goal scorers and
he has the ability to feed them. Don’t forget about Marty.
Brian La Rose: Sometimes the smallest forward can pose the
biggest threat. No, I’m not talking about Martin St. Louis. Mats
Zuccarello, who is one inch shorter than Tampa’s former captain, was quietly New
York’s leading point getter during the regular season and is one point out of
the team lead in the postseason. We often talk about how Montreal’s team
speed can cause fits for opposition defenders but the same can be said about the
diminutive Norwegian. He isn’t a top line player for the Rangers but he’ll
be heard from in this series.
Kevin Meldrum: The Rangers that you have to key in on are the
veterans Brad Richards and Martin St. Louis. They are the keys to the Rangers’ game plan; they have
the experience and understand what it takes to win. Rick Nash also has to wake up
sometime and he also can be a factor.
Mitchell Tierney: The Rangers have a number of forwards who
could be potentially dangerous. But Derick Brassard may be the player who is the
biggest threat. The ability of Quebecois players to cause problems against the
Canadiens has been well documented. Furthermore, Brassard is a proven playoff
performer who came up big for the Rangers in crucial games against the Penguins.
With the way he finished the series he will come into Montreal with plenty of