30 Days of Lundqvist: A Stick Tap From Savard
By virtue of consistently being one of the best goalies in the NHL since entering the league in 2005, Henrik Lundqvist is no stranger to making highlight reel saves. The save against Thomas Vanek during the 2014 playoffs that arguably saved New York’s season is one that comes to mind first. His diving stick stop from behind the net on Ryan Johansen is at the top of most fan’s list among Lundqvist’s regular season saves.
For me, Lundqvist’s most iconic save throughout each of the 82 game marathons known as regular seasons came on October 20, 2007 against the Boston Bruins. The Rangers had gotten off to a rough start, as they were 2-4-0 heading into the contest after being labeled a Stanley Cup favorite during the offseason. Their seventh game of the season marked the first of two trips up to the City of Champions during the 07-08 campaign, and it served as a chance to being righting the ship on what was supposed to be a successful season.
With nine minutes left in the first period, Jaromir Jagr took a double minor for high-sticking, and put the Blueshirts to the penalty kill for the second time in the game. An otherwise uneventful powerplay became very eventful for Boston as time began to run out on the Bruins’ man advantage. As much as I’d like to describe to you what happened, I think Sam Rosen and Joe Michelletti could do a much better job:
How Savard managed to get so wide open is beyond me. Actually, no it isn’t. The dynamic duo of Michal Rozsival and Marek Malik made up half of New York’s penalty killing unit for that sequence, so that explains a lot. Moving past that, Marc Savard’s reaction to everything is what makes the save so memorable. Every player misses wide open nets once in awhile, and there’s usually some sort of glance up to the heavens to ask the hockey gods “Why?” or “How?”.
Instead of the usual reaction, Savard went into a full-blown sprawl onto the ice and just stared into the rafters, asking himself “How did that just happen?”, give or take a few other sentence enhancers. After taking a moment to gather himself, Savard skated over to Lundqvist and acknowledged New York’s then-25 year old superstar with a tap on his pads.
Aside from the handshake line at the end of each playoff series, hockey players will rarely acknowledge each other for what they’ve accomplished on the ice. For Savard to go out of his way and give Lundqvist a tap on his pads has always been one of my favorite Rangers’ moments, let alone Lundqvist-specific moments.
Until the day Henrik Lundqvist lifts the Stanley Cup over his head, his save on Savard will stand out as one of the most iconic moments of his career in my eyes. I can count the number of times I’ve seen an opponent acknowledge a Rangers player during the course of a game on one hand, and Lundqvist’s save on Savard tops that shortlist of moments.