Flames lose to King Lundqvist & the Rangers
Henrik Lundqvist stopped 50 shots to power the New York Rangers to a 3 to 1 victory Friday night over the Calgary Flames and received a well deserved 1st star of the game. King Lundqvist showed again why he is considered one of the best goalies in the NHL. In his previous game against the Vancouver Canucks he stopped 50 of 55 shots in a 6 – 5 win. When asked if stopping 100 shots in the last two games was still fun. Lundqvist who turned 36 years old on Friday replied “It’s always fun when you win!” “ I’m 1 – 0 as a 36 year old!” said the veteran Swedish net minder whose 430 career wins places him 8th on the all time list and for sure he is headed to the Hockey Hall of Fame on his retirement.
With the game tied 1 – 1 in the opening minute of the second period, Lundqvist dropped his stick and acrobatically dove across the crease to get his blocker on what appeared to be a definite goal by Michael Backlund. It was a brilliant save! It was probably the defining moment of the game.
For the Flames right now it’s not fun. Playing home games against non playoff bound teams like the Rangers are must wins. When asked what stung most about this lost. Coach Gulutzan replied: “Everything… we’ve dug us a bit of a hole now… and we need to get ourselves out of it.”
Flames goalie Jon Gillies did not have a great game and was out-dueled. He stopped 24 of 27 shots, but the Rangers hit at least 5 goal posts! Since Flames star goalie Mike Smith got injured, the Flames lack overall team confidence. He is arguably the team’s MVP this season. Without Smith the team has only won 3 games! The Flames have lacked attention to details – bad passes – bad decisions with and without the puck and bad penalties. Yes, the Flames generated 51 shots on goal. However, shooting from outside – only 10 shots where from in close – and not a lot of traffic in front of Lundqvist.
Lundqvist gives the Rangers a chance to win each and every game. Mike Smith did the same for the Flames earlier this season. The Flames need a healthy Mike Smith if they will have any chance to make the playoffs this season. With only 16 games left in the regular season, the Flames are in tough to make the playoffs. It will probably come right down to the first week of April.
One positive note was the play of newcomer Nick Shore who was crafty on the ice, 15 shifts played, 11:08 minutes, and won 64 % of his face-offs and is probably the Flames future 4th line centre.