May 23, 2012, 2:17 PM EDT
If not for Henrik Lundqvist, we might already be previewing a New Jersey-Los Angeles Stanley Cup finals.
That’s not necessarily a shot at the Rangers – no team should apologize for having a great goalie. King Henrik’s performance in the Eastern Conference finals is exactly why he’s paid the big bucks and gets to drives a cool Maserati. (Also, why he gets a nickname like King.)
Still, it’s safe to assume the Rangers would like to get off to a better start in Game 5 tonight at Madison Square Garden. They’ve already spent enough time on their heels in the first period, relying on Lundqvist and other clutch defensive plays to keep things close.
In Game 4, Lundqvist finally broke. The Devils scored twice in the first 12 minutes and went on to win, 4-1.
“There’s no question Jersey right on through the playoffs, not just our series, they have blitzed teams and gained momentum,” New York coach John Tortorella said today. “Momentum is a big part of playoff hockey. There’s no question we like to get that on our side right away.”
Devils coach Peter DeBoer doesn’t disagree his team’s been able to dominate the Rangers early.
“We break down scoring chances by period and game,” he said. “I usually concentrate more on the final number, which has been very good through the series for me. So I haven’t looked closely enough at the individual period. I imagine it’s pretty good. Our first periods have been great.”
New Jersey is 6-2 in the playoffs when it scores first and 4-4 when it doesn’t.
New York is 9-2 and 1-6, respectively.
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