With home-ice advantage now in their favor after a Game 1 win against the Montreal Canadiens on Wednesday, the Rangers have a chance to pin their original six rivals up against the proverbial wall with a strong Game 2 performance Friday.
Here’s what you need to know:
Date: Friday, April 14
Venue: Bell Centre, Montreal
Puck drop: 7 p.m. ET
TV: MSG, USA Network
Radio: 98.7 FM ESPN Radio
The Blueshirts were fueled in Game 1 by the goaltending heroics of Henrik Lundqvist, who continues his solid playoff career despite a mediocre 56-59 record.
A 31-save shutout on Wednesday night further added to a playoff resume that includes a .922 save percentage and 2.26 goals against average.
It was just enough for a Rangers team that didn’t exactly exude tons of offensive chemistry.
Had it not been for Tanner Glass’ wicked backhand on the Rangers’ third shot of the night, Game 1 wwould have been destined for overtime.
But that’s what you need to do in the playoffs. Absorb the pressure and throw the puck at the net when you can, especially when Carey Price is between the pipes.
New York’s character carried it the rest of the way. With grit and physical play stymieing Montreal’s usually fluid offense, any sort of early momentum gained by the home team at Bell Centre from the crowd was snuffed out.
The Rangers will need to play the exact same way come Friday, although it’s imperative they don’t lose their composure if, or when, Lundqvist concedes a goal.
If they do, Lundqvist will be on his own against an aggressive Canadiens offense.
That would normally spell certain doom for most teams in the NHL, but you can’t write off the Rangers no matter how much time they spend defending.
If Lundqvist taught us anything on Wednesday, it’s that he alone can keep the Rangers in contention throughout the postseason.