Was the Game 1 victory over the Ottawa Senators Thursday night perfect? By no means whatsoever.
The power play—a sore spot all season long—was 0-5 to start the playoffs. There were defensive lapses that lead to Ottawa scoring two late goals and possibly giving them some confidence going into Game 2. There were only three penalties, but the types of fouls that could have been easily avoided.
Obviously, there are areas that need to be fixed moving forward. But, is the play of Henrik Lundqvist one of them?
During pre-game interviews this morning, Newsday beat writer Steve Zipay asked Tortorella about improvements from his team. Here’s what he said:
Torts: “We have to be better in all areas”. So I ask, “Even in goal?” The response: “Everywhere.”
— Steve Zipay (@stevezipay) April 14, 2012
Torts doesn’t specifically mention his potential Vezina-winning goalie by name, but by stating he wants improvements everywhere includes Henrik Lundqvist by default. Stopping 30 of 32 shots—especially when Ottawa surged in the second period and kept the team’s 1-0 lead intact—can hardly be the means to ask for improvement, can it?
Prior to Game 1, Lundqvist’s postseason numbers were as follows: 15-20, 2.60GAA, .906 sv %. Not exactly all-world numbers.
However, Lundqvist was arguably the best player on those playoff teams and shouldered the heavy load of carrying the team every minutes of every game. This team and this year are much different, offering the support Lundqvist needs to be successful as well as the proper rest—Hank started in just 62 games (lowest since his rookie season of 05-06 with 50 starts).
Does Torts think Lundqvist wasn’t his best on Thursday night for Game 1? Absolutely not.
It’s just another case of the coach maxmizing his player’s productivity by pushing the right buttons. Torts knows his goalie is ultra-comptetitive and a perfectionist to his fault. He also knows that if he pushes him just a little but, his goalie will respond by pushing himself to higher levels.
We’ll find out tonight in Game 2 just exactly what those levels are.