We talk about it every year, and by now you've assuredly heard the phrase: "The New York Rangers will go where Henrik Lundqvist takes them."
Well that was on full display Tuesday night, as the Rangers got a deceptive 4-0 victory on the road against the Vancouver Canucks. Lundqvist earned his first shutout of the year in a sparkling 40-save performance that had both Rangers and Canucks' fans picking their jaws off the floor at the end of the night.
Basically, it was just another day in Rangers' nation. That's how good Lundqvist has been the seven years that he has graced Broadway. It's almost criminal that Lundqvist only has one win this year, especially when you look at his 1.69 GAA and .947 SV%. I don't care that it's early in the year, Lundqvist has shut down big-time teams, and done it on the road to boot.
Join me after the jump for more.
The Los Angeles Kings have one of the best lines in the NHL right now. Lundqvist held them to two goals. The Anaheim Ducks have a top line that is nearly as dangerous. Lundqvist held them to one goal. The Vancouver Canucks probably do have the best line in the NHL, and Lundqvist didn't let them touch the twine once.
The only blemish is the three-goal game against the New York Islanders, but the defense was suspect in that game, so it wasn't entirely unexpected.
Basically, Lundqvist is doing what he always does, bailing out the Rangers and keeping New York in games. The Rangers had no business winning last night's game and, to be honest, Vancouver should have blown the doors off in the second period. But Lundqvist helped the Rangers steal two points, and that's what great players do for their teams.
I still believe the Rangers are an elite team in this league. They have all the tools in place to win the division, it's just a matter of the pieces coming together. For the final 18 minutes of last night, it finally happened, and the results were remarkable.
The trick, however, is getting everything to work for a full 60 minutes. The Rangers still took too many penalties, including three in the offensive zone that had John Tortorella ripping his hair out on the bench. The Rangers came out a little flat, and the forwards looked lost in the defensive zone at times. And for the first 40 minutes of the game, it looked as though the Rangers needed to skate uphill to get into Vancouver's zone.
But a win is a win, and maybe a win is just what this team needs to get back on track. The attitude in the locker room was exactly what you would have expected at the end of the game; joy, jubilation and an internal gratitude that Henrik Lundqvist is a New York Ranger.
Now it's time to parlay that emotion into a full hockey game, so Lundqvist doesn't need to stand on his head every time the Rangers get two points.