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  • 24 Jul
    BROSSARD, Que. [b]Ray Nitschke Youth Jersey[/b] . -- The NHL Eastern Conference final will be more than just a rematch of the Sochi Olympic final between goaltenders Carey Price and Henrik Lundqvist. But thats where much of the attention will be when the best-of-seven series opens Saturday afternoon at the Bell Centre. Price completed a majestic Olympics as he allowed only three goals at the Winter Games in February and backstopped Canada to a 3-0 victory over Lundqvist and Sweden in the final to claim gold. He hopes to do it again in the battle of Original Six teams. "A big reason those two teams got to the gold medal game at the Olympics and why both these teams are here is goaltending," Brandon Prust, a former Ranger now skating on right wing for Montreal, said Friday. "Theyre two of the best goalies in the league, so its a great matchup there." It has been an uneven matchup in recent years however, which has to be a concern for the Rangers. The man they call King Henrik has a dreadful record when he plays in Montreal. In his career, Lundqvist is 4-5-2 at the Bell Centre with a whopping 3.87 goals-against average and .876 save percentage. He has been so bad, successive coaches John Tortorella and then Alain Vigneault have not given him the starting assignments at the Bell Centre. Lundqvists last game in Montreal was Jan. 15, 2012, when he let in four goals and was subbed by Martin Biron. Vigneault has confidence in his No. 1 goalie, however. "I cant comment on what happened in the past," he said. "All I can say is that Lundqvist is one of the best goalies in the NHL. "Hes a goalie that excels under pressure and as far as I know, there is no place in the NHL where he doesnt play well." This season, Cam Talbot started both meetings at the Bell Centre, earning his first career shutout in a 1-0 win on Nov. 16 and losing 1-0 in the regular-season finale for both clubs on April 12. Lundqvist started at home on Oct. 28 and lost 2-0 to Montreal backup Peter Budaj. "I dont think he ever played here when I was with the Rangers," said Prust. "Marty Biron always played here. "I dont think its going to be a big factor in the series. Hes a top goalie for a reason. Weve just got to make sure were getting on him right away, getting lots of shots, getting lots of traffic and just causing some havoc around there to keep that confidence away." Lundqvists last win in Montreal was a 4-3 shootout victory on March 9, 2009. His troubles seem to go back to a wild game in 2008 when the Canadiens stormed back from a 5-0 deficit to defeat the visiting Rangers. Then again, the entire Rangers team has struggled in Montreal, scoring only four goals in their last nine visits. Montreal winger Max Pacioretty isnt counting on Lundqvist crumbling at this point of the post-season. "Hes obviously a world-class goaltender and that whole mental block that you mentioned can change with one save in the first period of Game 1," said Pacioretty. "If we get worried about things we cant control, thats when we start to get away from our game." When hes not facing Montreal, Lundqvist is spectacular. He leads playoff goalies with a .931 save percentage to go with a sterling 1.99 GAA. He was especially solid as the Rangers came back from a 3-1 series deficit in their conference semifinal against Pittsburgh, allowing one goal in each of three straight wins. Price pretty much matched that as Montreal overcame a 3-2 deficit against Boston, allowing one goal in the final two games. He has also matched Lundqvists 1.99 average, to go with a .928 save percentage. "Its not always making the amount of saves, its making saves at the right time and I think hes really figured that out," Pacioretty said of Price. "In that series, every game you could say he made huge saves at the right time and it changed the momentum of the game." In Game 7 in Boston on Wednesday night, Price took the unusual initiative of standing up in the dressing room after the second period with Montreal leading only 2-1 to deliver a speech about staying calm. "Careys a leader," added Pacioretty. "Hes a man of few words, but when he speaks he knows the right things to say. "Hes been a leader since Day One that Ive been here, but right now its at a whole other level. I want to play for a guy like that and Im happy to see him step up like this." The Rangers and Canadiens will meet for the 15th time in the post-season. The teams are 7-7 against each other so far, with New York taking their last meeting in 1996. On the ice, they are similar teams, relying on speed, skill and goaltending to win, so it could make for entertaining, end-to-end hockey even if all three regular-season meetings were low scoring. The Rangers only goal against the Canadiens this season was from Ryan Callahan, who was dealt at the trade deadline to Tampa Bay for Martin St. Louis. "Theyre a lot like our team," said Montreal winger Dale Weise, another former Ranger. "Theyve got a lot of skill and speed up front and their small guys really compete, so its going to be a great matchup." For Montreal, it will be a second straight Original Six matchup against a team with a former Canadiens coach. They beat Boston and coach Claude Julien in the conference semifinal and now face New York and Alain Vigneault, who coached in Montreal from 1997 to 2001. The Rangers lineup features ex-Habs Dominic Moore, Benoit Pouliot and Raphael Diaz. And their top defenceman Ryan McDonagh was drafted by the Canadiens in 2007 but dealt to New York as part of a trade that brought the since-departed Scott Gomez to Montreal. The Canadiens look like theyll start the series with the same lineup they had in Boston, with rookie Nathan Beaulieu on the third defence pair with veteran Mike Weaver. They will soon have the option of using gifted young forward Alex Galchenyuk, who missed the opening two rounds of playoffs with a knee injury. Galchenyuk was cleared for contact practices and was on the ice Friday, but coach Michel Therrien said he will need more practice time before he can be used. "Its obviously tough not to play in the playoffs," said Galchenyuk. "You wait the whole year to be in this position, but Ive got to deal with it." [b]Custom Green Bay Packers Jerseys[/b] . Calgarys Bo Levi Mitchell and Montreals Troy Smith will be the starting quarterbacks in a CFL season-opener for the first time in their careers. Both want to reinforce their No. 1 status. You can watch the game live in the first half of a doubleheader on TSN and TSN GO at 3:00pm et/Noon pt. [b]Bart Starr Womens Jersey[/b] .ca presents its latest weekly power rankings for the 2013-14 Barclays Premier League season.TORONTO -- Long gone are the days when basketball fans tuned in to March Madness hoping to catch a fleeting glimpse of a Canadian. When the NCAA mens tournament tips off Thursday, look for numerous Canadians not only playing major minutes, but playing starring roles. "Whats a tangible barometer for us to hold onto is the number of our players who are playing prominent roles within these teams," said Rowan Barrett, assistant GM of Canadas national mens program. "Were not tuning in to hope our Canadian guy gets two or three minutes. Were seeing a number of teams where our players are either the player of the year in the whole conference, the leading scorer of the team, the freshman of the year or theyre on the Wooden list as one of the top players in the entire country." Canadians, Barrett said, are the driving forces behind their teams, and "thats got to be exciting for Canadians and exciting for Canadian basketball." A total of twenty-seven Canadians will suit up in the tournament. Of course, theres Andrew Wiggins of Vaughan, Ont., a favourite to go No. 1 overall in this years NBA draft. The Kansas Jayhawks star was the Big 12 freshman of the year. But while Wiggins has been dominating NCAA headlines, there are numerous other Canadians shining on the college stage, including Andrews brother Nick, who plays for the undefeated Wichita State Shockers. Theres Melvin Ejim, a small forward from Toronto and senior at Iowa State, who claimed AP Big 12 player of the year honours. Michigan sharp-shooter Nik Stauskas of Mississauga, Ont., was named the Big 10 player of the year. Of the top five shot-blockers in the NCAA, three of them are Canadian. Jordan Bachynski, a seven-foot-two centre from Calgary, leads with 4.13 blocks a night for Arizona State. Bachynski was the Pac 12 defensive player of the year. Khem Birch, a 6-9 forward from Montreal, is second in blocks with 3.76 for UNLV. Torontos Sim Bullar, a seven-foot-five centre for New Mexico State, is fifth with 3.41. "The good thing is when you have so many Canadianns performing at a high level, it inspires other Canadians, it inspires the kids coming in and theyre thinking, OK, Im not just coming in here to play, Im coming here to lead, Im coming in here to be a driving force and the level and the bar continues to be raised," said Barrett, who played college basketball for St. [b]Paul Hornung Jersey[/b]. . Johns. "I think thats great for our game, for our athletes who do decide to play in the NCAA. Its a tangible show of the growth of our game." Theres Tyler Ennis of Brampton, Ont., who is the starting guard at Syracuse. Ennis was one of 25 players on the mid-season list for the John R. Wooden award for the NCAAs top player, and is touted as an NBA first-round draft pick. There were some tense moments Sunday before the NCAA unveiled its March Madness bracket, Barrett said. The tournament is a chance for players to turn some heads prior to the NBA draft, but obviously not all of the 92 Canadians in Div. 1 would make the spring showcase. "Thats always exciting for sure, and especially when there are some of our Canadian players that we want to get into the tournament, that were not sure are going to get in, like a Dwight Powell at Stanford," said Barrett. Powell, from Toronto, was also on the mid-season Wooden award list. "You want him to get on that stage, he wants to get drafted this year, hes on the draft boards. So it was really exciting, exhilarating for him to get in there." Barrett predicts five Canadians may go in this years draft. Whats also exciting, he said, is that the college stars are also keen to play for Canada. "I think its great just the novelty of Canadians, to look and say, Hey thats great, there are Canadians there (in March Madness), but its a total other thing to see them donning the red and white and going out there and sweating and bleeding for their country as they give everything they have," he said. "Hopefully that will be the most inspirational thing for some of these younger players who are coming in and watching the game." ' ' '