With each passing period and every shot on goal, New York Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist showed why he is one of the best goalies in the NHL. The only problem is that New York Islanders goalie Evgeni Nabokov looked every bit a top three netminder himself and the Rangers needed overtime to win 2-1.
The Rangers lack of offensive firepower dimmed the light of the effort that Lundqvist put forth. Entering the game versus the Islanders, the Rangers had won three in a row, scored 10 regulation goals and seemed poised to continue their run. Nabokov had other plans though as he shut down Rick Nash, Ryan Callahan, Carl Hagelin and any other Rangers skater that attempted to crack his crease until late in the third period. Nash put a deflection into the net to tie the game at one, and overtime awaited, where Marian Gaborik finally put one in to win the game.
For Lundqvist, he stopped 27-28 shots from all angles, and did all he could to put the Rangers on his back while waiting for his teammates to strike. What you take from a game like this is the fact that the Rangers’ goalie has seemingly found his stride and is back to form after having a rough past few weeks.
Lundqvist has many detractors who mock his “King Henrik” nickname, and since he has not yet won a championship for New York, there really is no argument against their mockery. Yet what fans should realize is that their goalie is every bit as good as anyone in the net throughout the league. That goaltending is what will give the Rangers an advantage going into the playoffs.
What the Rangers need now is to put the rest of their package together. After receiving inspired play with the return of Nash, Michael Del Zotto and others from injury, their play seemed to falter tonight. They can not simply waltz into the playoffs with erratic board play, missed opportunities from the point and poor defense in the crease. They surely cannot continue to wait until overtime to win games, especially against teams like the Islanders.
The Rangers are better than what they showed against the Islanders tonight. Their talent level dictates they should have no issue with finding the back of the net and eliminating opponents’ opportunities deep in their own zone.
Lundqvist’s star shone bright tonight, and when the rest of the Rangers decide to join him, they will truly be a team to be reckoned with in the playoffs.
“Rant” your views below on where the Rangers problems lie as they have trouble getting complete team efforts in all three periods.
Craig Moir is a New York Rangers writer for RantSports.com. Follow him on Twitter @cmoir727. “Like” him on Facebook at CraigMoirRants, add him to your network on Google+ or follow all of his writing on NetworkedBlogs