Henrik Lundqvist walks into Rangers uncertainty with proud performance

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It was the perspective of a 38-year-old and 15-year-old veteran who understands the ride won’t last much longer, let alone forever. That was the view of Henrik Lundqvist, whose surprise Rangers’ 128th straight playoff start ended Saturday in a 3-2 loss to Carolina in Toronto in the first best-of-five qualifying game. .“I’m just happy, you know, that I got the chance to play. I appreciate. I love to be there and compete, ”said King, who was excellent in the game dominated by the ‘Canes most of the time. “Obviously we didn’t have the win but I think we did a lot of good things and are watching videos and learning and showing a little better next time around.”

I do not know. Would Lundqvist have been so calm after a Game 1 playoff loss in, say, 2008, 2013 or 2017? I don’t remember it that way. But maybe it’s me. Lundqvist has always been about savoring the moment and enjoying the journey. Maybe he wouldn’t have expressed his gratitude for starting the playoffs back then because, honestly, of course, he was starting every game. But then, no one would have asked him what it felt like to play. I certainly would not have.

The plan, as Lundqvist acknowledged, was for Igor Shesterkin to get the mission. But the rookie, classified in the ‘unfit to play’ tote, was unable to go after sustaining some sort of injury in Friday’s practice or Wednesday’s exhibition game against the Islanders in which he played the first 29:15 and stayed on the bench. for the duration. It is not related to COVID. Shesterkin watched the game from the stands. There were, by the way, a lot of good seats available.

Henrik Lundqvist
Henrik LundqvistGetty Images

So Friday night, Lundqvist got the call. It might not be the 2012 Lundqvist, but neither is it the Lundqvist who only started one of the team’s last 19 games before the break and brought up memories of the Willie Mays from 1973 when he entered. Rather, it was the Lundqvist who used the break to rebuild their game while at home in Sweden and shine during the two-week summer camp leading up to this tournament.

“I approached this camp with a great open mind so whatever they ask me to do I would be ready for it,” said Lundqvist, who made a handful of pound saves among his total. of 34 and was flawless on goal. . “Obviously the plan was to play Igor, but they told me [Friday night] I was going to. Things like that happen.

All other things being equal, Shesterkin will likely get the start of Game 2 if he’s healthy. Lundqvist wasn’t to blame, but the Rangers never seemed to be quite in sync. Perhaps the Russian’s puck-handling ability would have blunted Carolina’s furious run right out of the gate, but he wouldn’t have been able to do it on his own.

When Lundqvist said his team had done a lot of good things and needed a little better, his nose should have grown like Pinocchio’s and Zoomed through the computer screen. Because the truth is that the Blueshirts have only done a few good things and if they are only a little better in Monday’s Game 2 which also starts at noon, they are likely to watch elimination in Game 3. .

Mika Zibanejad was a horse through 25:32 of ice time while scoring the goal to bring the team to 2-1 in the end of the second. But Artemi Panarin was choked, Chris Kreider was muzzled, Ryan Strome was covered, Adam Fox was put down, and Tony DeAngelo unimpressed. The children had problems, but so did the veterans. The team generated next to nothing in the race, rarely had the puck under the hash marks, needed too many tries to clear the area and were unlucky on the power play, going from 0 to 7 in 12:08 with the advantage of the man. .

“I think they surpassed us, really,” Zibanejad said. “We didn’t really click. We couldn’t be on the same wavelength. ”

The Rangers face serious challenges. Not only did their alleged No.1 fail to get into the net, but Jesper Fast, injured on a Brady Skjei neutral zone bomb by a blow on open ice barely 32 seconds after the start of the match, is likely down. for a spell. Without Brendan Lemieux suspended for Game 2, the Blueshirts will have to tap into the taxi team for a replacement.

Of course, it was just 3-2, and Lundqvist was surely one reason it wasn’t worse. Still, he knows he might not play the next one.

“I’m just trying to enjoy the moment,” said the Swede. “I take every start as an opportunity to play the game, to enjoy the game and to try to help the team. Physically, technically, mentally, I am in a good position.

“I felt like I was moving well. There are a few things I need to adjust a bit for the next game, if I get the chance to play. We will see. “

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