To be fair to the rest of the team, this was not a one man show. The Rangers played a great game tonight, scoring three goals on one of the best defenses and goaltenders in the NHL and doing their part to stay out of the penalty box, block a TON of shots, and overall frustrate a very good offensive team.
But Henrik Lundqvist has more than earned his time in the spotlight. So move over Jeremy Lin, it’s time for LUNDSANITY. I’m not one to get all worked up about individual games, but Henrik Lundqvist made that much more separation between himself and Tim Thomas (as well as every other goaltender) in the Vezina race. And perhaps he gained some ground in the Hart race as well. 42 saves on 42 shots. Some easy ones, a lot of difficult ones, and a few impossible ones. LUNDSANITY. Let’s review the game beyond what King Henrik did.
Blocked Shots- It’s no secret that the Rangers are a great shot-blocking team. It’s as much a part of their identity as anything else. But tonight the team went above and beyond. There are 20 total skaters in the lineup for the Rangers. 18 of those 20 blocked at least one shot. Marc Staal and Derek Stepan were the only ones who didn’t get in front of a Bruin shot. Even Richards and Gaborik had ones of their own. Give credit to the players, but also give a TON of credit to the coaching staff. I don’t buy that this same roster puts that kind of effort in with another coaching staff behind the bench.
Ryan Callahan- Not exactly a pretty goal by him; everybody else did the hard work for him. But he put himself in position to score it, and Adam Graves knows very well that it’s not “how” but rather “how many.” We can talk about Callahan’s hot-streak with 6 goals in his last 4 games, but let’s instead broaden the scope. Could Ryan Callahan be on his way to his first 30 goal season? His 23 so far this season matches his career high, and there are 27 games remaining in the season. There are no guarantees, but I think Callahan is going to break the 30 goal barrier. That’s another step in the right direction for one of the biggest overachievers the Rangers have seen in the last 50 years.
Artem Anisimov- Some great defensive work tonight but the re-emergence of his offense is the bigger story. His slight hesitation on the 2 v 1 was enough to make Tim Thomas off balance and he put it away to basically seal the game. Artie has 6 points in his last 6 games.
Brian Boyle- 16 out of 27 on faceoffs, 4 hits, a blocked shot, and two shots on goal of his own. He’s not up to last season’s standards but the abuse he gets from some fans is unfair. That kind of performance is all we can ask for from a bottom-six center. Against teams like the Bruins you need guys who will do the boring dirty work like that. He definitely went through a streak of games where he was irrelevant but in the month of February he’s been very good. Boyle will at least get appreciation from me.
Not much else to say about individuals; and that’s not a bad thing. I could put every single player on the roster here and explain how they played a part in tonight’s win. Against teams like the Bruins you need a fantastic effort from everybody. We got that tonight. We saw too much Bruins’ possession in the second period and I’m sure John Tortorella will find five hours worth of game footage that he thinks needs to be worked on, but ultimately I think he, the team, and the fanbase can be happy with a 3-0 victory in Boston. Though the Bruins do have a game in hand, the Rangers have a nine point lead over the Bruins for first in the Conference. I’ll end this with an important statement from NHL.com’s Dave Lozo:
After tonight, we must all accept we live in a world where the Rangers are the class of the Eastern Conference.
— Dave Lozo (@DaveLozo) February 15, 2012