Canadiens' P.K. Subban feels Rangers' Henrik Lundqvist has got a bit lucky

Montreal Canadiens defenceman P.K. Subban said New York Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist had luck on...

Montreal Canadiens defenceman P.K. Subban said New York Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist had luck on his side in Game 2. (FRANCOIS LAPLANTE/FreestylePhoto/Getty Images/AFP)

Mike Zeisberger, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 9:15 PM ET

BROSSARD, QUE. - Despite having a four-letter word lobbed at him courtesy of Montreal Canadiens star defenceman P.K. Subban, the normally calm, cool and collected Henrik Lundqvist isn’t about to get flustered by comments coming out of the opposing dressing room.

Sticks and stones, as they say.

Of course, Subban didn’t use THE four-letter word that probably came to your mind right away, although it does rhyme with it.

The one that Subban uttered in reference to the Rangers goalie was “Luck.”

Specifically, Subban said this after Game 2 of the Eastern Conference final on Monday, a 3-1 Rangers victory in which Lundqvist had turned aside 40 of 41 Rangers shots: “Is he playing well? Yeah, but we’re doing a good job. Some of it is luck, as well.”

Subban’s not altogether wrong. Truth be told, every goalie needs a horseshoe stuffed down his pads when hard rubber discs travelling 140 km/h are being launched at you through a sea of bodies.

Fortunately, King Henrik, ever the composed cat, knows how these things can get blown out of proportion, no matter how relevant the comments might be. Besides, he’s been called far worse in his career. He’s a Swede. That, in itself, doesn’t make you very popular in Finland. Ask him some time some of the unflattering things the fans in Helsinki have labelled him over the years, then call the censors.

In comparison, being told you have “luck” isn’t such a bad thing. In fact, Lundqvist, reacting to Subban’s statement for the first time, told reporters on Wednesday that he doesn’t necessarily disagree.

“You definitely need (luck),” Lundqvist said after Rangers practice in Greenburgh, N.Y. “It’s a fast game. There are so many things you can’t control as a goalie, how the game is played, the situations that occur in front of you.

“But you have to believe in yourself and try to help your team as much as you can.”

His teammates certainly believe in him. And so, evidently, do the fans, especially if you judge it by the demand for tickets for Game 3 on Thursday at Madison Square Garden.

Reports out of New York said ducats for Game 3 — the Rangers’ first home contest in 11 days — were selling on Tuesday for an average of $601 US. According to SeatGeek, that’s up 58% since the start of the series and marks the most expensive non-Stanley Cup final game since it first started monitoring prices in 2010.

The average face value of a ticket for this series at MSG is $273, with prices ranging from $145 to $1,776.

Keep in mind that home ice has not been an advantage for the Rangers, who went just 20-17-4 at the refurbished Garden during the regular season and are 4-3 there in the playoffs.

At the same time, with the Rangers just two victories away from a first Stanley Cup final appearance in 21 years, excitement is ballooning in the Big Apple. Understand, too, that the Rangers have had just one home game since New York fell behind 3-1 in games to the Pittsburgh Penguins in the second round, so fans haven’t had much chance to vocalize their support first-hand for the team’s recent success.

Being well aware of this, Rangers coach Alain Vigneault on Wednesday called on Rangers supporters in the building for Game 3 to loudly back the team.

“Having fan support is obviously huge at this time of the year,” Vigneault said. “Unconditional love is something that I think can be beneficial to a team.”

“Unconditional love” from Rangers backers is never an issue for Lundqvist, who is serenaded by chants of “Hen-reek, Hen-reek” almost every night he plays at MSG. Luck or no luck, the Garden throng understands the Rangers will only go as far as Lundqvist — he of the NHL playoff-leading .934 save percentage — takes them.

“We all try to do our part, and my part is to stop the puck,” Lundqvist said. “When the team needs me, I try to stop the puck. But there are other moments when guys step up and make big plays and score big goals. It’s all of us.

“To have success more than just a few games, you’re going to need that.”

Speaking of “needing” things, Subban might require ear plugs on Thursday to keep from hearing the heckles being aimed at him from the MSG fanatics.

Including derogatory verbal shots that sound like “luck.”

Use your imaginations. You’ll figure it out.

Now, if only the Habs can figure out Lundqvist.

DIRECTING TRAFFIC

In the world of hockey, there are only three certainties in life: (1) Death; (2) Taxes; (3) Players on losing teams at playoff time lamenting their need to get more traffic in front of the opposing goalie.

You hear that same thing over and over again every spring. Which leads us to the comments made here after practice on Wednesday by the Habs’ Brian Gionta, whose team trails Henrik Lundqvist’s Rangers 2-0 heading into Game 3 of the Eastern Conference final in New York.

“It’s no different than any other goalie in this league. You have to get traffic and you’ve got to get second and third opportunities,” Gionta said.

“Most goalies in this league are going to stop the first shot. So it’s part of penetrating their D and making sure you get quality chances, but you’re also there for the rebound.”

Fair enough. But if he feels so strongly about it, why didn’t the Habs do more of that in the first two games?

mike.zeisberger@sunmedia.ca


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