hankwinspens

Lundqvist Has Night For the Ages

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You knew going into Game 7 last night that if the Rangers had any chance of advancing to the Eastern Conference Finals, Henrik Lundqvist would have to be at his best.

Little did we know he was going to put on one of the great playoff goaltending performances in NHL history.

You always want to lean on your best players in a winner take all situation, but the heavy lifting Lundqvist was forced to contend with was incredible. From the shift immediately after Brian Boyle opened the scoring till the final horn, the Penguins owned possession of the puck as the Rangers pretty much abandoned any semblance of offensive pressure in favor of a bend don’t break “Tom Renney” defensive game plan.

Unlike in Games 5 & 6 when the Rangers played fast and loose throughout, last night, after regaining their one-goal lead after Brad Richards’ power play goal, Alain Vigneault literally put the game on his goaltender’s shoulders and said take it home big fella. And The King was more than happy to oblige.

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Here’s post game reaction from Lundqvist’s teammates (via New York Post)…

Martin St. Louis…

“He’s played like the nickname he’s carried. The King.”

Marc Staal…

“When we were up 2-1 going into the third period, we had a lot of confidence with Hank back there and with the way we know how to play defense. But then that scramble in front with about five minutes to go … seriously, those were the three or four biggest I’ve seen him make since I’ve been here.

“They were massive.”

Alain Vigneault…

“Yeah, he’s ok. (laughs). He was the difference in tonight’s game.”

 …i’ve always maintained that until Lundqvist wins a Stanley Cup, Mike Richter is the greatest goaltender in Rangers history. That all changed for me last night. Richter had some amazing moments during his tenure in New York (something about a penalty shot), but nothing on the level of what Lundqvist accomplished this series. Add that to The King’s 5-1 record with a 1.00 gaa & .965 save percentage and one shutout in Game 7s along with being 10-2 with a 1.32 GAA, a .957 save percentage and two shutouts in his last 12 games when facing elimination and it’s not even close. Those numbers are the definition of clutch. He’s done more with average Rangers teams in his career than Richter ever did and this two Conference Finals in three years run probably isn’t done with any other goaltender in the NHL.

…amazingly, with the Rangers likely to have problems finding the back of the net against Price or Rask in the Conference Finals, Lundqvist will probably have to bring his game to an even higher level. Which knowing him, won’t be a problem at all. 

And while most of us assumed the Penguins would be quick to change their head coach, according to their Wikipedia page, they were introduced to a new owner last night (H/T reader Brian D.)…

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Kevin

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