The New York Rangers came away with arguably their most emotional win of the season last night, a 1-0 shutout of the Montreal Canadiens. They won their first game in Montreal in four years due to Cam Talbot‘s spectacular performance, posting 22 saves in his first NHL shutout. Now, they return home to face the Los Angeles Kings, whom they beat in the second game of the season in Los Angeles, 3-1. Although this is not a trap game, the potential for coming out flat after such an emotional performance the night before is there.
The Kings are playing very good hockey right now. They have picked up five points out of possible six on their current East Coast trip, beating the New Jersey Devils and New York Islanders in the process. Their franchise goaltender, Jonathan Quick, is out with a groin injury. His backup, Ben Scrivens, has played admirably in his absence, though. He is 3-1-1 in seven appearances this season, with two shutouts, a 1.51 goals-against-average and .940 save percentage. He should not be taken lightly.
The Rangers will return Henrik Lundqvist to the net tonight following Talbot’s shutout. Lundqvist has come under criticism recently in the media and from his coach, Alain Vigneault, especially after letting in a pivotal soft goal last Tuesday night against the Devils. While no one is suggesting Talbot will dethrone King Henrik from his starting spot anytime soon, the Rangers need Lundqvist to be Lundqvist tonight; otherwise, questions may persist. As long as the rest of the team comes out with a blue-collar effort early, they should avoid a letdown.
A tough stretch of games begins for the Rangers this week, and it starts against a Cup contender in the Kings. After exorcising their Montreal demons last night, it is important for them to come out with a workman-like effort. Teams in any sport tend to have letdowns early in games following important victories. The Rangers bucked one trend last night, and the opportunity is there tonight for them to buck another.