Last night, Henrik Lundqvist became the 12th goalie in NHL history to get to 400 wins. The Rangers got two goals from Kevin Klein and the game winner from Rick Nash to help Lundqvist reach the milestone. It’s been a little while since I’ve done a Twitter recap, so let’s see how everyone thought about the game.
If I ever had the luck of seeing Henrik Lundqvist walking the streets of NYC, I would stop what I was doing and grovel at his feet
— Kevin (@Kpower90) February 12, 2017
You are not the only one.
The story of tonight’s game isn’t going to be the potential for five wins in a row. It’s not going to be about keeping pace in a Metro Division that has four of the top five teams (in terms of points in the standings) in the NHL. It’s going to be about Henrik Lundqvist, who sits at 399 career wins, and is facing a Colorado Avalanche team that is worst in the NHL. The stage is set for career win #400.
Of course, that means this could be a trap game for the Rangers. Winning four in a row, now facing the league’s worst team at home. We’ve seen this before. But perhaps the chance to get Hank to 400 and the need to keep pace with the other three teams in their division will keep them from falling into the trap. What we do know, is we are watching a generational talent in Lundqvist, who is finally starting to find his game. And perhaps, just at the right time.
Hartford Wolf Pack 3, Springfield Thunderbirds 2
Springfield, MA, February 10, 2017 – Adam Tambellini scored all three Hartford Wolf Pack goals, for his first professional hat trick, Friday night at the MassMutual Center, in a 3-2 Wolf Pack victory over the Springfield Thunderbirds.
Jace Hawryluk had a goal and an assist for the Thunderbirds, and Denis Malgin also scored for Springfield.
The win improved the Wolf Pack’s record to 18-25-3-2 for 41 points and lifted Hartford to within two points of the sixth-place Thunderbirds in the Atlantic Division.
I remember watching when Henrik Lundqvist first arriving on the scene in 2005. Kevin Weekes had just gone down with an injury, and the soon to be anointed King took over for a game. Then one game became two. Then two became two in a row. Then three in a row, and then he was the starter, appearing in 53 games that season and winning 30 of them.
That was his first 30 win season. He would win at least 30 in every non-lockout season following, and sits at 399 career wins. Usually I’m hesitant to use goaltender wins as a mark of success because it is a team oriented stat, but in watching Hank you know he carried a number of those Rangers teams much farther than they should have been. Without Hank, the post-Jaromir Jagr teams are non-playoff teams until 2011-2012.
The Rangers were down early against Nashville, spotting them a 2-0 lead before four straight goals gave them the lead for good. Kevin Hayes led the charge with a pair of primary assists that were just pretty passes. Henrik Lundqvist was magnificent again. He stopped everything he could stop in this game.
This was another strong game for the Blueshirts. They’ve been stringing together the strong performances lately, and very quietly have built a four game winning streak. They’ve done it on the back of Lundqvist, balanced scoring, and some better defense.
My internet was pretty terrible last night, so I couldn’t make gifs. So hooray for bullet points. Gotta change it up every now and then, right?
The Rangers have quietly won three in a row, allowing just five goals in that span. Henrik Lundqvist seems to be rounding into form. The forwards are scoring up and down the lineup, so the depth appears to be back in order as well. The Rangers just played a solid game against the Ducks, and have a matchup against a very similar team in Nashville tonight.
The Predators, like the Ducks, have talent up front, but not much scoring depth. They have one of the top blue lines in the game as well. This is why they are 6th in goals against and 17th in goals for. They recently cut Mike Ribiero and added Vernon Fiddler via trade. That’s probably a wash on the ice, and a net positive in the locker room. Keeping shots tot he outside will be key for the Rangers, but that’s been hit or miss over the course of the season.
Growing up playing goalie, there were many different warm ups I went through. As a kid, I just strapped on the pads and went for it. As I got into more organized and competitive hockey, I started paying more attention to what I needed as I went through the pre-game warmups. At that point, I wanted my teammates to make sure they shot the puck at me.
It’s not an overly complicated concept. Get me used to the puck hitting me. Then get me moving laterally, still putting the pucks low so that I can get a feel for it. Sure, there was the one guy that always picked a corner. There was the other guy that was a jackass and thought it was funny to ring one off my mask. After the warmups, I had a feel for it before puck drop.
The Rangers played an all around solid hockey game last night, besting the Anaheim Ducks by a score of 4-1. It wasn’t a perfect game by any stretch, but the Rangers got timely goals, decent defense, and solid goaltending. Henrik Lundqvist was only beat once on a goal in which he stood no chance. The defense played one of their better –relatively speaking– games as well. The solid effort gave Alain Vigneault his 600th NHL win as a coach. Like him or not, that’s a solid milestone.
Three different lines got in on the action for the Rangers, showing how truly dangerous they are when their forwards are fully healthy. John Gibson did his best to try to keep the Rangers off the board, making a number of stellar saves (here and here are just two), but Hank bested him with another great performance in net. He’s been coming around lately. Perhaps just at the right time?
On to the goals:
Late last week, we learned that Mats Zuccarello would be the Rangers Ambassador for You Can Play. The You Can Play project is a nonprofit organization committed to supporting the LGBTQ community and fighting homophobia in sports. Tonight is You Can Play Night at MSG. A special table will be set up at Section 113/114 where fans can talk to a representative and learn more about the organization and their initiatives. There will also be an online auction, and 100% of the auction’s proceeds will benefit the You Can Play Project.
As for the game itself, the Rangers are taking on potential trade match Anaheim. The Ducks have a ton of defensemen but lack cheap scoring. They are top heavy up front but deep on defense. It’s going to be an interesting matchup. Perhaps the Rangers get a good, long look at Josh Manson.
It’s that time of the year. Teams are jockeying for playoff spots, trying to identify their team needs for the stretch run. Non-playoff teams are starting to pool offers for rentals. Buyers are trying to figure out what they can part with. Trade deadline rumors are abound.
For the Rangers, every rumor worth reading has them linked to a defenseman. I say “worth reading” because there were one or two rumors that said they want a forward. Considering the depth they have, I don’t buy those. Just looking at the teams solid offense and porous defense shows that they need help on the blue line. But with all the names that have been dropped, the one thing we have yet to hear is what the Rangers are willing to give up.