The Montreal Canadiens move into the third round of the National Hockey League playoffs with their first game against the New York Rangers. How much fun will that be? It will be hard for Canadiens fans to hate New York players as much as they might have hated Milan Lucic, Shawn Thronton, Brad Marchand and Zdeno Chara of the Bruins. But if they win they will have the chance to be the first Canadian team to win the Stanley Cup since Patrick Roy's 1993 Canadiens.
It's an early start. The puck drops at 1 p.m. Who's ready for Hockey Afternoon in Canada? HNIC's pregame show begins at 12:30 p.m..
Watch game one live HERE or click on the image above.
Game preview: New York Rangers at Montreal Canadiens – 12:30 p.m. ET
Coach Alain Vigneault, Brad Richards and the rest of the New York Rangers couldn't hide their excitement about facing the Montreal Canadiens in the Eastern Conference finals.
They already knew their next opponent would be a fellow Original Six team, but facing the storied Canadiens means a little more than playing the Boston Bruins.
The Rangers won the right to play in the third round knocking off the Penguins in Pittsburgh in Game 7 — capping a comeback from a 3-1 series deficit.
"I'm not going to lie, it's the best place to play," Richards said Thursday. "I've been fortunate enough to see Super Bowls, I was at Yankees-Red Sox at old Yankee Stadium Game 7, World Series, I've played in the Stanley Cup finals.
"I can't imagine any other sporting event that is this amazing of an atmosphere. It's very special."
Original Six matchup
Vigneault began his coaching career in Montreal back in 1997. He is in his first season as Rangers coach, following a long stint with Vancouver.
"I've got nothing but positive memories from my time there," said Vigneault, a day after his 53rd birthday. "I've worked with some great people. I'm here today because I started there.
"Original Six games are always exciting and there's a lot of history associated with both teams. Playing against the Montreal Canadiens, it's going to be a lot of fun. Our group is real excited about this opportunity, and I'm sure the Habs feel the same."
Montreal won the last of its record 24 Stanley Cup titles in 1993, and the Rangers ended a 54-year championship drought the following season but haven't captured the Cup since.
"For a Canadian kid, for the guys from Quebec it's really special," said Richards, a native of Prince Edward Island. "From where I'm from, there's a lot of Montreal fans. It's the closest NHL city in Canada to us. Our whole life was Montreal. That's all you get to see on TV.
"It's an amazing place. It's going to be so fun. It's a great opportunity for us."
Game 1 starts at 12:30 p.m. on CBC Sports Hockey Night in Canada. Click here to watch the live stream.
With files from the Associated Press.