The New York Rangers on Saturday night against the Montreal Canadiens will be attempting to match their longest win streak -- eight -- since the 1974-75 season.
What is there to say about a team's play during a stretch such as this? The cliches are used enough, but the Rangers' success stems from a total team effort: offensive contributions up and down the lineup (including defense), stiff defense, excellent goaltending and a universal commitment to coach John Tortorella's black-and-blue style. Right now, it's a team that's firing on all cylinders. Over the seven-game stretch, the Rangers have scored 27 goals. They've allowed 11, and their penalty kill has thwarted 90 percent of the power plays against. A lot of great things are happening for the Blueshirts right now.
Despite all this, it hasn't been perfect. The effort is there but the consistency isn't always present, meaning Henrik Lundqvist (or Martin Biron) has to stand on his head to keep the game within the Rangers' grasp. Further, some of the teams the Rangers have beaten -- the Jets, Senators, Hurricanes, Islanders -- don't exactly have the makings for being top-tier NHL teams this season. But it doesn't matter, these guys have gotten the job done against "inferior" competition -- and that's what good teams are supposed to do.
Montreal will look to avoid losing losing its second straight game -- and its second to the Rangers during their surge. The Canadiens have gotten excellent production from Tomas Plekanec, who has 14 assists and 18 points on the year to lead the way, as well as from Max Pacioretty who paces the team with nine goals (16 points). Other than that, the team isn't wildy explosive, but it does get productivity from a number of guys. The Habs have six players with at least four goals on the season, though they do rank 19th in the league scoring, with a 2.58 per-game rate. Carey Price has a respectable .913 save percentage and solid 2.29 goals-against mark on the year, and has the ability to steal a game. Add in the fact that the Bell Center acts as a seventh (counting the goalie) player on the ice when the Rangers are in town, and this has the ingredients to be a crazy battle.
If the Blueshirts can stay composed, keep things simple and continue to ride the momentum of their play of late, they should be able to skate away with the win.