The Bell Centre in Montreal and Madison Square Garden are two of the most famous hockey arenas in the world, so the buildings provide an A-list backdrop for the first-round playoff series between the Canadiens and Rangers.
“We’re so proud of our Bell Centre, but this is also a pretty special place,” Montreal coach Claude Julien said Sunday before Game 3. “When you ask players who are from the U.S., this is an unbelievable place.”
Julien said when Michael McCarron, a 22-year-old from Michigan, played his first game at the Garden in February “he was as nervous as he’s ever been. That’s the kind of impact this place has on a lot of players.”
Said the Canadiens’ Brendan Gallagher (who is Canadian): “It’s a cool place to come and play, a lot of history here.”
But no Canadien has quite the connection to the Garden as does Max Pacioretty, who grew up in New Canaan, Connecticut, attended Rangers games as a fan and first played at the Garden before a Rangers game as a member of the Connecticut Junior Rangers when he was in his early teens.
“Coming here as a kid,” he said, “the whole experience of taking the train in, sometimes taking the subway, the whole experience of being in Manhattan to see a hockey game or a concert, meant a lot to me growing up.
“It’s cool to be able to play in this [arena] . . . It’s weird, I guess that [I played here] before I was a professional, especially in a building like this. So it was fun.”
Pacioretty learned his lesson playing at the Garden in the playoffs in 2014, and this time assigned his wife, Katia, to handle ticket requests.