Lundqvist and Nash starting something special in these playoffs
The Rangers are just one win away from advancing to the second round. When it comes to leading the way, two Blueshirt names stand out among the rest. Goaltender Henrik Lundqvist and forward, Rick Nash.
RETURN OF THE KING
When the playoff matchups were finalized, Montreal versus New York boasted the marquee goalie matchup. Carey Price and Henrik Lundqvist are not just premiere goalies in the NHL, they are two of the best goalies in the World.
Still, coming into this postseason there was genuine reason for concern as Lundqvist posted the worst numbers of his NHL life. In his 12 year career, his 2.74 GAA and .910 SV% were abysmal by Henrik’s standards. The fact that he is now 34 led everyone to start raising the question of his decline.
Then the regular season ended and the games became life or death for NHL teams. In the playoffs, Lundqvist has a sparkling 1.83 GAA and a stellar .944 SV%. Wow! When you dig a little deeper, his SV% at even strength is .951 and a solid .889 against the Montreal PP. As far as I’m concerned, only Pekka Rinne has played better in this postseason.
60 seconds remain.
Tie game in Montreal.
— NHL on NBC (@NHLonNBCSports) April 21, 2017
So what’s changed? On the surface to me it is obvious, he is not overplaying the shooter and is making great reads. His puck tracking looks as good as it did in 2014. What doesn’t really show up is his desire. It is quite possible that this head to head versus Price was just what Lundqvist needed to put his competitive juices into overdrive.
In a recent NYPOST article Lundqvist said, “When you’re competing against the best, you need to work harder.” He continued, “That’s why you’re here. You want to compete. You want to measure yourself against one of the best goalies in the world.” Derek Stepan actually admitted a bit more, “It’s been a great matchup between the two of them and he’s enjoying every minute.”
Right now, so are we.
NASH BECOMES THE POWER FORWARD WE NEED
At 6’4″ and 212lbs, the 32 year old winger has played more like a smallish perimeter player during the playoffs than a beast of his stature. That isn’t the case this postseason as Nash stated he was going to use his size more and play down low.
In game 4, those words turned into action and led to consecutive wins and a 3-2 series lead for the Rangers. Nash grabbed the series back from Montreal at the Garden with a power move down low and some nifty hands.
— NHL (@NHL) April 19, 2017
Last night, Nash once again powered to the net and Brady Skjei was there to tie the game.
— NHL (@NHL) April 21, 2017
Rick Nash using his size to become impossible to handle down low, is the main reason the Rangers have seized control of this series. Here’s more proof of Nash’s commitment to playing the way the Blueshirts need to go far.
Rick Nash when he’s at his best…all shot attempts in Game 4 coming from inside top of the circle, all shots on net coming from inner slot. pic.twitter.com/jUipHEetTb
— Mike Kelly (@MikeKellyNHL) April 19, 2017
This is what the Rangers require from 61, and if this is what they keep getting the Rangers could be in for a long run.