It took Henrik Lundqvist half the 2013-2014 season to become the goaltender he has been of the past. Lundqvist has brought the New York Rangers back into a solid playoff position with consistency and leadership, especially over his last team games. The timing could not be more perfect as the Rangers headed into the Stadium Series at Yankee Stadium today at 12:30pm vs the New Jersey Devils.
He has anchored the club to five post season berths in his first six seasons as a Ranger earning himself a 7 year, $58 million dollar contract in December. With his recent play, the Broadway Blueshirt’s have moved into playoff position sitting at sixth in the Eastern Conference.
The first half of the season was a nightmare not only for the Rangers but for perennial Vezina trophy nominee Lundqvist. He lost the five of his seven starts, temporarily losing his starting position to rookie goaltender Cam Talbot.
Lundqvist was lost and was not on his game at all. He missed two games early on to an undisclosed injury and was healthy scratched in three consecutive games to Cam Talbot, who has had a Cinderella-esque season.
However, Lundqvist has risen to the occasion in his last ten games. He has posted Vezina numbers of late with a 0.925 save percentage, 2.1 GAA, one shutout and has only allowed 2 goals or less in 7 of those games.
“Personally, I feel like things are definitely moving in the right direction,” Lundqvist said. “I’m playing my game. I had a stretch when I was watching a lot of tape; I was working really hard to try to get back to basics.” Lundqvist told SB Nation’s Evan Sporer in post-game interview
The Rangers can now ride their horse in the likes of Lundqvist and rely on him to make the key saves that help them win big games down the stretch. He has taken off the pressure from the rest of his teammates allowing more success up front.
The Rangers proved that they can fill the net when all the lines are contributing with a 7-3 win in the first of two Stadium Series games at Yankee Stadium. Lundqvist had a shaky start to the game but was able to make 19 saves en route to a win at home for the 45,000 fans there to share the experience.
“It’s a combination of me raising my game, and the team playing really well, we’ve had more success.” (SB nation)
Rick Nash who had been struggling at the same time as Lundqvist has also found his game. Nash has eleven goals in his last eleven games which is good for eighteen on the campaign. Nash has 39 goals as a Ranger in two seasons, exactly what they brought him in for. Nash has the ability to change the outcome of games and he has been living up to the expectation as of late.
“Sometimes players can be streaky, we need that from him, he’s an elite player, we need him to play like that” said head coach Alain Vigneault in post-game press conference about Nash.
With the Rangers two most important players at the top of their game heading into the Olympic break the Rangers can look forward to finishing the Stadium Series and a couple weeks off to rest. The Olympics will hopefully allow Lundqvist and Nash to elevate their games to a whole new level.
The King is back and so is his army.
Notes: The Rangers are (28-23-3). Rangers dealt defenseman Michael Del Zotto to the Nashville Predators for rugged defenseman Kevin Klien on January 22nd. The Rangers had been looking to ship Del Zotto all season but were looking for the right buyers as they did not want to receive picks and prospects for him. Klein will add a much needed toughness and a right handed shot that the Rangers were lacking on the back end. The Rangers play the New York Islanders in the NHL`s Stadium Series 2nd game at Yankee Stadium 3 days from now. Goaltender Henrik Lundqvist admitted he was asleep when he was told that the game was starting in New York vs Devils today.
Written by: Inside Edge Hockey News writer - Michael Fenton
King Henrik and Rangers Peak at the Right Time
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