He wasn’t perfect and sometimes it wasn’t pretty, but Sunday night Henrik Lundqvist proved once again that he can carry the New York Rangers to a victory. He displayed a little rust in the first period, allowing two goals, including one in which he was beat glove side on a shot he normally stops. For the final two periods, however, Lundqvist was the difference-maker for the Rangers.
The only goal Lundqvist allowed in the final 40 minutes was off a deflection by the Tampa Bay Lightning‘s Valterri Filppula. Aside from that, Lundqvist made critical save after critical save with most coming in the third period as the rest of the Rangers team struggled to maintain a consistent level of play.
This doesn’t put to eternal rest the theory that a goaltending controversy is afoot, however. As good as Lundqvist was Sunday and as good as backup Cam Talbot has been recently, the truth is the Rangers need to see spectacular performances from Lundqvist consistently, not sparingly. He will get another opportunity against a struggling Florida Panthers team on New Year’s Eve.
Should Lundqvist not be able to handle a bottom-feeder team like the Panthers after handling a top-tier team like the Lightning, coach Alain Vigneault may have to make a decision to start Talbot again to begin the new year.
Sunday night, the Rangers saw the Henrik Lundqvist that has carried this franchise for nearly a decade. But again it is only one game after time on the bench. So is a revival for their franchise goaltender afoot? The Rangers had better hope so. Otherwise, speculation of a goaltending controversy will commence all over again.