According to Rangers coach Alain Vigneault, Henrik Lundqvist “would be the first to say that six goals against is very uncharacteristic.”
So how uncharacteristic would it be if that happened two games in a row?
That’s why all eyes will be on Lundqvist tonight in Tampa Bay, as the Rangers try to even the Eastern Conference Final at two games apiece.
Vigneault was even asked if Lundqvist would, indeed, be his starter.
The coach laughed.
Of course The King would be the starter.
“Hank is very accountable and very demanding on himself,” said Vigneault. “He is going to do what any good goaltender does. He is going to put [Wednesday’s] game behind him.”
The thing about being one of the best goalies in the world is that you end up playing in a lot of big games, with everyone watching. Lundqvist leads all active goalies with 107 playoff appearances, most of which he’s played very well in.
But you play enough big games, you’re going to have some stinkers. Marc-Andre Fleury has appeared in the second-most playoff games among active netminders, followed by Jonathan Quick, Corey Crawford and Roberto Luongo.
All five have been at least as far as the Stanley Cup Final, if not won it. But each has also had a few nightmares under the spotlight.
“Sometimes stuff happens,” Vigneault said after Game 3, when asked about the long-range shot that beat his franchise goalie in overtime.
Lundqvist still has a .926 save percentage in these playoffs. He could still end up winning the Conn Smythe Trophy.
But the Rangers know the size of tonight’s game.
“It’s absolutely a huge game, you know,” said captain Ryan McDonagh. “Being tied 2-2, going back to MSG or being down 3-1 is quite a hole.”
So they’ll need The King to play like one.