In the first three rounds of the Stanley Cup Playoffs, the New York Rangers won Game 1 of each series. However, they failed to keep that trend going when they lost Game 1 of the Cup Finals to the Los Angeles Kings.
Now trailing in the series and already considered a drastic underdog, the Rangers must find a way to steal Game 2 in LA. In order for that to become a reality, New York must once again lean on goalie Henrik Lundqvist to win them a game.
The Rangers have faced some potent offenses during the playoffs this year, but none of their previous opponents are quite like the Kings. They can beat you offensively in so many ways with almost any player in their lineup.
Lundqvist had a strong first game against LA, but gave up three goals on 43 shots. It was the most shots faced in a game for Lundqvist this postseason, and his 40 saves tied his playoff high. It’s a lot to ask after a guy makes 40 saves, but Lundqvist will have to play even better in Game 2. He’s certainly no stranger to putting the Rangers on his back; he’s been doing it for years.
The Rangers have good depth at the defense position, but the Kings are going to find ways to get quality chances no matter how good New York’s defensemen play. That’s when Lundqvist will need to bail out his team with key saves at important times. The Rangers found out how quickly the Kings can strike after a 2-0 lead vanished for New York in Game 1.
Luckily for the Rangers, Lundqvist has played his best this postseason following a loss. He has a 5-2 record in those games and has given up two goals or less in all but one of them. Holding L.A. to under three goals is much easier said than done, but Lundqvist will need to work his magic to even up this series.
If Lundqvist and the Rangers can’t succeed in Game 2, they’ll be heading back east in a 2-0 hole against a Kings team that looks to have the same type of magic they had during their 2012 cup run; that run ended in LA’s first championship in franchise history.