It will be interesting to see what malarkey Habs coach Michel Therrien comes up with now.
After branding Chris Kreider a renegade and terrorist for his trip into Carey Price during Game 1, the Habs had to stand before the King in Game 2.
And they didn’t like Henrik Lundqvist’s actions one bit.
A 40 save effort by No 30, gave the Rangers a 3-1 win and a commanding 2-0 series lead over the Canadiens.
“You know what?” Therrien said. “The reason why we lost the game tonight was Lundqvist. Lundqvist was phenomenal, phenomenal. Stole the game. Those things happen in the playoffs, but I like the way we approached tonight’s game. He made a couple of breaks. And when you get those breaks, momentum can change really quick in the playoffs.”
Montreal came out strong, peppering Lundqvist with shots through the first 10 minutes of the game. One after another, the King made brilliant save, after brilliant save. Only a deflected shot by Max Pacioretty, got through at 6:14. Other than that, it was just another day at the office.
“Well, we knew they were going to come hard, but we put ourselves in a tough spot there by not getting pucks out,” Lundqvist said. “They were all over us. But to tie it up quickly like that, I think that was important to kind of even out the momentum a little bit.
“The first period was a tough one. We knew they were going to come hard. They had a really strong 20 minutes there, but then going out in the second with the lead, it felt good. We felt confident. I felt like we played a really strong second and third. The third goal, obviously, was huge for us. But you have to win in different ways, and this is definitely a battle from the start. Then we kind of came back to basics, I felt like, especially in the second and third.”
Goals by Ryan McDonagh, Rick Nash and Martin St. Louis were more than enough for Lundqvist.
Of course, like any good king, he credits his court.
“You have to go out and earn it every game,” he said. “The first two here I think we played really well for the most part. I had to make a couple saves here and there, but as a group we played really well. I don’t really think about what’s in their head. What is their approach. I don’t really care. I try to just focus on what I have to do, really.”
Lundqvist is looking to make up for the disappointing 2012 conference finals when the Devils ousted the Rangers in six games. knowing that this could be his best chance to win a Stanley Cup, the 32 year-old isn’t taking any chances now and he is almost willing his team to victory.
“You’re trying right now to inspire each other, and personally, it’s a lot of fun to be out there. It’s exciting. It’s pressure,” he said. “Brad (Richards) talked about it too, that you have to grab the opportunity to really do whatever you can. When I kind of sit down and collect my thoughts, my goal here is to leave it all out there. If it’s going to be enough, we’ll see.
“But you don’t want to sit at the end of the year and feel like you had more to give. That’s what I felt a little bit the last time we were in the Conference Final. We didn’t reach our full potential, and it was extremely disappointing to end the season like that. If you go out and you play your absolute best and it’s not enough, it’s easier to accept. It’s still tough, but at least you want to feel like you left it all out there because you don’t get that many chances. That’s my goal right now to really try to reach my full potential and inspire teammates and everybody that’s helping us right now to kind of reach that level and see how far it takes us.”
Right now, Lundqvist and his Rangers are in the driver’s seat, with a 2-0 lead going back to Madison Square Garden. With Price out, the Habs are relying upon rookie goaltender Dustin Tokarski, which bodes well for the Blueshirts.
Which is why you can forgive Therrien for all his stories. The man just doesn’t have any other choice. With Lundqvist in the pipes, Montreal is facing a huge uphill battle.
And a war that is halfway won for the Rangers.
Six more wins to the Cup.