Henrik Lundqvist is “The King” on Broadway.
If he’s not going to be dethroned of the title, it’s time for Lundqvist, 30, to make the next step and get the New York Rangers past the second round of the playoffs for the first time in his career with a victory in Game 7 Saturday night at Madison Square Garden.
The Rangers supposedly had all the momentum after a last-minute win in Game 5 as they arrived at the Verizon Center with a 3-2 lead in the Eastern Conference semifinal and were eager to send the Washington Capitals to an early summer.
It wasn’t Lundqvist’s fault the Rangers weren’t able to close the door and book a spot in the conference final but he has a lot to prove. You make a name for yourself in the regular season and earn your reputation in the playoffs.
If Lundqvist is to be regarded as the “best goalie in the world” then he must win this series and move on to beat New Jersey’s Martin Brodeur in the third round to advance the Rangers to the Stanley Cup final.
If the Rangers don’t find a way to win Game 7, then Lundqvist, who has a 22-26 playoff record, has the most to lose. Braden Holtby is a nice story for the Capitals, but Lundqvist should be able to beat him.
THIS N’ THAT: Alex Ovechkin one-timed a shot by Lundqvist on the glove side to open the scoring at 1:28 of the first on the power play. Ovechkin told Hockey Night in Canada’s Elliotte Friedman, he didn’t get everything on it. “I don’t think the shot was that hard,” said Ovechkin. “The puck was kind of bobbling a bit. The most important thing is it goes in.” ... CBC’s Ron MacLean was trending and taking it on the chin on twitter for comparing the Rangers/Caps to the 9/11 first responders in New York during his pre-game. Let’s put it this way: It didn’t work.
THE MORNING SKATE: Caps coach Dale Hunter promised centre Jay Beagle, a strong role player in the playoffs, would suit up in Game 6 after he didn’t go for a twirl in the morning. “Just resting his legs. He’s gonna play,” said Hunter. Apparently, Beagle’s legs also needed the night off after he blocked a shot in Game 5. Jeff Halpern, who hadn’t played since March 23, suited up. Since everything is magnified, Beagle’s absence was equivalent to Wayne Gretzky not playing ... Ovechkin had one of his best scoring chances in the third period sitting on his butt. Lundqvist was forced to make one of his best saves of the night ... The Rangers tried one of those last minute comebacks with Marian Gaborik’s goal with 51 seconds left. This time, the Caps avoided completely falling part and will head to New York Friday.
THINGS I THINK I THINK: A name was never used but Don Cherry certainly insinuated Nashville coach Barry Trotz is a “loser” during his Coach’s Corner segment for not playing Alex Radulov and Andrei Kostistyn after they were out partying. Cherry went off on a tangent about former Flyers’ great Bobby Clarke convincing Fred Shero to dress Reggie Leach after he’d had a few beers. “Some guys are losers that don’t want to take a chance,” said Cherry, who noted Leach doesn’t drink anymore ... The Rangers have never lost a Game 7 at MSG the four times they’ve been forced to play one in team history. Their last victory was a 2-1 win over the Senators in Round 1.
AROUND THE BOARDS: Caps left wing Jason Chimera scored his fourth goal of the playoffs at 10:59 of the second to give his club a 2-0 lead. That’s the kind of heroics you need in the post-season ... Is it just me or does anybody else wonder how New York finished No. 1 in the East during the regular season? The club can barely score and when they do win it certainly doesn’t come easy ... Rangers defenceman Ryan McDonagh was getting an earful from coach John Tortorella for not getting the puck out of the zone on Ovechkin’s opening goal. “This is the Cardinal sin to flip it around there like that,” said Cherry. “When you’re killing a penalty, as Denis Potvin used to say, ‘Break his hands’. If (McDonagh) was a Washington Capital, he couldn’t have passed it any better.”
THE LAST WORDS: Expect former Dallas coach Marc Crawford to get an interview from Montreal General Manager Marc Bergevin. The strong belief is former Atlanta coach Bob Hartley is a top candidate along with Gatineau bench boss Benoit Groulx. The fans choice: Patrick Roy of the Quebec Remparts. Many believe he’s a long shot ... One thing you can say for this Rangers/Caps series: Nobody will miss it when it’s over ... Hunter looks like he can’t stand wearing a tie. He was caught loosening his neckwear as he went down hall after the first. He should just go for the Brian Burke look and not do it up at all.