As shown by the New York Rangersall season long, defense can definitely help in being successful. The Rangers has a third-ranked defense in terms of their goals against during the regular season which allowed them to gain the first seed in the East. And their stifling defense was very evident during Game 1 of Eastern Conference Finals. Owner of New York Rangers tickets were certainly very pleased with the performance of their team on the defensive end especially with how their goalie Henrik Lundqvist shut out the entire New Jersey Devils.
Lundqvist is not as decorative of a goalkeeper when compared to the man who is defending the other goal for this series, Martin Brodeur. Lundqvist may not have all the accolades, regular season and playoff records, and experience that Brodeur has but what he showed in Game 1 is something worth to look for. New Jersey certainly played up to the best of their abilities on the road, their forecheck was very outstanding, they made New York play in their zone for long stretches, and Brodeur was at his usual spectacular game of defending the goal. Despite all of these, they still lost the opening game of the series. This is where Lundqvist showed how great of a player he is. He proved that he is the guy with bulky pads that won’t allow the opposing offense to score.
Often referred to as King Henrik, Lundqvist was able to turn back all the 21 shots taken by New Jersey en route to the 3-0 win and a 1-0 lead. The margin of difference does not define how close the game was all throughout. After two periods, the game was still scoreless and it definitely favored New Jersey. However, Lundqvist had other plans. Though the first goal just 53 seconds into the final frame did not directly involved him, his solid defensive play during the game, especially in the second period resulted to that play. Just 53 seconds on the final period, defenseman Dan Girardi was able to score a goal off a pass from rookie Chris Kreider.
A good example of the solid defensive plays of Lundqvist is when he was able to turn aside the three solid whacks fired at the goal by Devils team captain Zach Parise.
The key for the Game 1 win was defense and Lundqvist was not the only one who defended very well. Top-pair defenseman Ryan McDonagh was also very solid on the defensive end. He single-handedly carried the team during the first period through nonstop back-checking effort. Due to this work of McDonagh, the Rangers were able to prevent two possible breakaway scores. He prevented Parise from scoring on a breakaway by racing down the ice during the first period. Later in the first period, McDonagh was able to prevent a sniper’s solo rush of Ilya Kovalchuk by taking a good angle of the shot.
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