Open mouth, insert skate.
That’s what New York Rangers’ goalie and reigning Vezina Trophy winner Henrik Lundqvist did on Thursday morning, just hours before his team laces them up against the Boston Bruins in a do or die Game 4 of their Eastern Conference semifinal series.
The majestically nicknamed “King Henrik” was sullen, yet gracious in defeat after Tuesday night’s soul ripping loss to the Bruins in which he made magnificent save one after another, yet was still outperformed for the third straight game by Boston netminder Tuukka Rask – his comments immediately following the loss serving as a precursor to Thursday morning’s bout with reporters.
“It’s unfortunate to have this game decided on a play where nobody saw the puck,” Lundqvist said on Tuesday night. “The bounces just didn’t go our way.”
And when given the opportunity to sleep on it and to gather his collective thoughts, he was a bit more candid this morning, offering up some bulletin board material to a Bruins’ team that really didn’t need any extra motivation going into Thursday night’s matchup with the opportunity to eliminate the Rangers:
“I’ve looked at a few games and they definitely got some lucky bounces,” Lundqvist said “Last game I blame the loss on lucky bounces,”
The Rangers face elimination, as the Bruins have taken the first three games of the series and can sweep the preseason Stanley Cup favorites with a win at Madison Square Garden tonight…
…and perhaps realizing the gravity of his team’s situation as well as how both the media and the Bruins would interpret his statement, Henrik hastily added, “but they haven’t changed the way they’re playing. They shoot from the point and they get a lot of people in front of the net. That’s what they do and they’re good at it. You just have to play them hard and make sure we make it tough for them to get in front.”
The Bruins are good at it, and his Rangers teammates have had little luck at moving the bigger Bruins out from in front of Lundqvist – in essence making their own poor luck by allowing Boston to dictate what’s happening in front of their prize goalie.
“When you work hard and you put the time in sometimes you get rewarded by being lucky,” Bruins’ tough guy Milan Lucic said in response to Lundqvist’s remarks, his own words coming from beneath a wolf-like grin. “The old saying: You’ve got to be lucky to be good? Were good enough to be lucky.”
Bottom line? The Rangers are toast if they can’t figure out a way to keep the bigger, stronger and faster Bruins out of the slot and keeping Lundqvist’s line of sight clear.
“They go hard to the net, that’s what they do,” Lundqvist said retorted “That’s how they’ve played. They put pucks on the net and they create chances from rebounds and screens and deflections. They play the same way all the time and we’re going to have to stop it tonight if we want to keep playing.”
New York is going to have to stop it, and whether that involves a certain amount of luck going their way or not, the simple fact of the matter is that the Rangers are going to have to win four consecutive games against a team that has physically manhandled them for three straight games to open the series if they are to advance with a chance to win the Cup…
…a playoff series deficit no Rangers team has ever surmounted.
“It was a tough night,” Lundqvist said after a Game three in which he survived a brutal assault by Boston, only to come away empty. “We gave our best mentally and physically, but it wasn’t enough.”
With that being the case, Lundqvist and his Rangers had better hope for some lucky bounces of their own, because just playing their best isn’t enough to get the job done.