The New York Rangers got their first win of the 2011 campaign Tuesday night, in a 4-0 victory over the Vancouver Canucks. Although it's still two points, the score was a bit deceptive, and the Rangers were truly outplayed for the first 40 minutes of the game.
But Henrik Lundqvist stole the show, making 40 saves for his first win (and fist shutout) of the season.
And while there's no reason to assume Lundqvist can't do that again tonight, it wouldn't be ideal. The Rangers finally found their game for the final 20 minutes of their matchup with the Canucks. Now they need to turn that into a full effort against the Calgary Flames, and keep the momentum they have gained moving in their favor.
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Although it's not confirmed that Lundqvist will be the starer, the philosophy remains the same.
Against the Canucks the defense did a fantastic job blocking shots and clogging up shooting lanes, spearheaded by the brilliant play of Dan Girardi and Ryan McDonagh. When all was said and done, the Rangers blocked 23 shots and the Canucks fired 78 towards the net themselves.
It's an effort to applaud by Lundqvist and the defense, but it's also a poor showing in terms of possession. It wasn't until the Rangers started controlling the puck in the offensive zone that their defense wasn't on their heels every two minutes. It wasn't until New York was generating scoring chances of its own, before the Rangers started regaining momentum.
Basically, a good offense will help the defense. Tonight against the Flames the Rangers need to make sure they're able to control play on the offensive side of the puck. The more they do that, the less chances Calgary will have to work with.
As I said before, even if Lundqvist doesn't start tonight the philosophy should remain the same, keep the puck away from the defensive zone as much as possible. Don't take dumb penalties, and finish your chances. The Rangers were able to do that for 20 minutes Tuesday.
Now they need to find a way to do it for 60 minutes tonight.