MONTREAL — Rangers coach Alain Vigneault and Canadiens coach Claude Julien, both young defensemen in the early 1980s, were former teammates in the Central Hockey League, and traded a couple stories Wednesday before Game 1 at Bell Centre.
Julien, asked for recollections of Vigneault when they played for the Salt Lake Golden Eagles, said Vigneault wore size 6 skates and was kidded by teammates about it.
Said Vigneault: “Claude can tell all the stories he wants. He had a great fight one time against George McPhee [former Ranger and current general manager of the Vegas Golden Knights]. I remember it vividly, behind the net, two guys just going at it for a long time . . . he was a real good teammate and a real good person.”
Vigneault, who was born in Quebec City and coached the Canadiens for three and a half seasons starting in 1997-98, fondly recalls seeing the Original Six and the Flying Frenchmen many times in the playoffs as a youngster. Asked if he had a favorite, he said:
“I remember watching with my dad, when they won all those Cups,” Vigneault said. “I don’t have one specific memory, but I’m hoping to create one for myself here [in this series].”
Henrik Lundqvist passed Mike Richter to become the Rangers’ all-time leader in playoff shutouts after the Rangers beat the Canadiens, 2-0, in Game 1 on Wednesday night. He leads all active NHL goaltenders in career playoff shutouts, and he also leads all active goaltenders in career playoff wins (56) and career playoff appearances (117) . . . Mats Zuccarello said he was fine after a knee-on-knee collision with Andrew Shaw in the second . . . Pavel Buchnevich, Brandon Pirri, Matt Puempel, Kevin Klein, Adam Clendening and Steven Kampfer were healthy scratches . . . Zuccarello and Canadiens right wing Andreas Martinsen, who have met for dinner during the season, are believed to be the first Norwegian-born players to face each other in an NHL playoff game. They did play against each other on Dec. 29, when Martinsen was with the Avalanche . . . The Rangers hadn’t opened their postseason at Montreal since 1974, with a 4-1 win. Scorers? Steve Vickers, Bruce MacGregor, Brad Park and Dale Rolfe . . . Jesper Fast, who practiced on Tuesday and skated with the extras Wednesday morning, was in the lineup.