Devils vs. Rangers: Henrik Lundqvist Must Be Epic for Rangers to Win
If the New York Rangers are going to survive in the Eastern Conference Finals against the New Jersey Devils (currently knotted up at two games apiece), they will do so because Henrik Lundqvist wills them to victory.
Generally, a goalie is the most important player for any Stanley Cup hopeful. But it is especially true for the Rangers, a defensive-minded team that very often struggles to score goals.
The evidence of his value in this particular series is clear.
Both Rangers' wins have come via Lundqvist shutouts, with the goalie stopping a combined 57 shots in those games.
In the team's two losses, he's allowed six total goals on 56 shots.
Now, we have to give credit where credit is due—the Rangers held the Devils to a paltry 21 shots in Game 1, and the offense has scored three goals in each of the team's wins.
But until Game 4, Lundqvist had been the dominant force in the series. Yes, the Devils scored three goals on him in Game 2, but two of them came on deflections.
Who will win this series?
Yes, the Rangers ultimately won Game 3 by a comfortable margin, 3-0, but the Devils dominated the early play and peppered Lundqvist with 36 shots throughout the game.
That's been another theme in this series—the Devils dominating the game early. Until Game 4, when he gave up two first-period goals, Lundqvist generally kept them in those games until his team woke up. He's been the saving grace for the Rangers' maddening slow starts.
But every wall has its cracks, and Lundqvist showed them in Game 4. He can't show them again.
The Rangers don't have as good an offensive attack as the Devils do, and they can't afford to try and play catch-up in this series.
In Henrik they must trust. He's the foundation of the team's Stanley Cup aspirations. If he crumbles, the team will follow suit.
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