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With Lundqvist, AV is nipping potential meltdowns in the bud

May 28, 2014, 2:10 PM EDT

New York Rangers v Montreal Canadiens - Game Five Getty Images

Alain Vigneault didn’t ask Henrik Lundqvist if he wanted to go back in for the third period. The Rangers coach had already made the decision to pull his star goalie less than halfway through Game 5 of the Eastern Conference Final, after Montreal had taken a 4-1 lead and the Bell Centre had entered full-on madhouse mode.

Backup Cam Talbot was the one between the pipes as New York stormed back to tie it, and he stayed between the pipes for the rest of the game, a 7-4 Canadiens victory. Talbot surrendered one goal in the second, after New York had leveled the score, then one more in the third. The Habs scored their seventh into an empty net.

“I pulled [Lundqvist] because I thought at that time we needed a little momentum shift, and I thought it might catch everybody’s attention,” Vigneault said. “It did for a while. Obviously, it didn’t work out.”

It was the second time in these playoffs that Lundqvist had been pulled after allowing four goals prior to the second intermission. He got the hook in Game 6 of the Rangers’ first-round series versus Philadelphia, before responding with a solid performance in Game 7, a 2-1 New York victory.

Vigneault expects another solid bounce-back Thursday at Madison Square Garden, this time with a chance to advance to the Stanley Cup Final.

“He’s a veteran player,” the coach said today. “One of the best in his area, and I’m sure he’s going to be focused and ready for the next game.”

Vigneault, you may recall, was criticized when he was coaching Vancouver for failing to pull Roberto Luongo during rough playoff outings. Like in Game 3 of the 2011 Stanley Cup Final, when Luongo allowed all eight goals in an 8-1 loss to the Bruins in Boston.

“[Luongo] said, ‘Don’t even think about taking me out,’ so that’s what I did,” Vigneault said after that game, leaving many to wonder why the coach had left the decision up to the player. It was 4-0 after 15:47 of the second period. Why not pull him then, before things got really out of hand? Which they most certainly did. Much to the delight of the Boston fans.

The very next game, Vigneault did pull Luongo, early in the third after he’d allowed four goals on just 20 shots, perhaps still shaken from his previous outing.

But it was the eight-goal meltdown that people still remember to this day. And don’t forget, all the blame Luongo received after the Canucks blew a 2-0 lead and lost to the Bruins was a factor in his much-publicized request to be traded.

Three years later, is it possible Vigneault has learned from his experience in Vancouver? That he’s realized people have a way of forgetting when goalies get pulled after allowing four goals? That it’s the big-time meltdowns — when six, seven or eight get past a guy — that everyone remembers, and can have franchise-altering consequences?

Only the coach has the power to nip those meltdowns in the bud.

“We didn’t give [Lundqvist] too much help,” said Rangers defenseman Dan Girardi, “and obviously A.V. felt that was the right move just to get him out of the game.”

And get re-focused for the next one.


  1. idonthavethebloodyoucrave - May 28, 2014 at 2:16 PM

    Good thing he pulled him, wouldn’t wanna bring his stats into reality.

    The guy gets exposed when shots actually make it through the 5 goalies to any where but his bread basket.

    • bstar28 - May 28, 2014 at 2:26 PM

      Oh yeah again? Stop trolling, perhaps you missed my response to you yesterday about how Montreal has actually blocked more shots per game in the playoffs, as well as in the regular season. (Where the Ranger’s were only 18th in the league in blocked shots.)

      • bstar28 - May 28, 2014 at 2:28 PM

        But I wouldn’t wanna bring stats into reality…

      • idonthavethebloodyoucrave - May 28, 2014 at 2:37 PM

        Perhaps you missed the part where Vigneaut has added to Torts system by adding equal emphasis and strategy to keeping shots to the outside and minimizing high percentage shots.

        It’s the defense more than it is the goaltender. Henry is a good position goaltender who makes himself look big and can strive, like a lot of goaltenders, in a system like Vigneaut has in place for the team. That’s just the reality of it.

        He’s won nothing.

        Even Cam Talbot succeeded, actually did better in most cases.

        Notice how Montreal actually had a place to shoot instead of right into his bread basket and what was the result? 3 out of 4 of those goals were weak. Similar results have occurred when this has happened in the playoffs and regular season.

        Homer on!

      • kaptaanamerica - May 28, 2014 at 11:29 PM

        Someone should punch Vigneault in the face for letting Luo get blasted time and again and now he doesn’t do the same with Lundqvist. Idiot Vigneault would let things get out of hand with Luo all the time when the team couldv’e used a change to spark something in them, but no, he let Luo get embarrassed over and over…

    • bstar28 - May 28, 2014 at 2:50 PM

      Nice try, but you literally have nothing to back you up on that.

      And yes Lundqvist played horribly yesterday, not defending those weak goals.

      Everything else that you said is complete crap. Lundqvist has now played for three different coaches in the NHL and has done great every season of his career.

      As far as good defensemen or good defensive teams making a goalie look good – Oh what a surprise that is!! Goalies that play on good defensive teams give up less goals, shocking! So does that mean that Martin Brodeur isn’t a future hall of famer because he’s played on good defensive teams? Also good positional goaltender isn’t an insult, you can’t be a good NHL goalie unless you are a good positional goaltender. Do you know of any goalies that play out of position most of the time that are good?

      And yeah I am a Ranger’s homer, that doesn’t mean Lundqvist is a bad goalie.

      As for what he’s won – He’s won a Vezina, and an Olympic gold and silver medal. And this year is his best chance so far to win a Cup. Goalies can’t win a cup on their own, the other 18 players on the ice have a little something to do with that too. Or maybe Curtis Joseph was horrible because he never won a cup, while Grant Fuhr is one of the best goalies of all time.

      I could argue your points all day, but you are clearly a troll that doesn’t know much about hockey so there’s no point.

    • phillyphanatic77 - May 28, 2014 at 7:27 PM

      I’ve seen enough of Lundqvist to know he’s not easily exposed. Sure he’s aided by his gigantic equipment but you can’t argue with his physical ability. He’s a beast. When he’s on he’s as unbeatable as any goalie currently in the game. He and Quick, IMO, are interchangeable as the top netminders in the NHL. I saw a ton of Brodeur in his prime, shutting down Leclair, Lindros, Primeau, Roenick, etc etc, and I can tell you that Lundqvist is right on par with that (when he’s got his A game).

      Now some, like yourself, might argue that the team in front of him takes a ton of pressure off but then you’d have to make the same point about Brodeur. I mean is having Mcdonagh, Girardi, Staal, Stralman, Moore, and Klein better than Stevens, Niedermayer, Danekyo, Rafalski, and Colin White? I’d say no. Lundqvist is truly elite. He hasn’t won it all but look at how far he’s brought a team that many thought wasn’t a legitimate Cup threat.

  2. elvispocomo - May 28, 2014 at 2:40 PM

    So classy of the fan to be flipping Henrik the bird as he goes off the ice. I don’t care who you are, that just makes you look like a tool.

  3. 19inarow - May 28, 2014 at 2:44 PM

    Look at that picture. Absolutely no class. I hope the one with his middle finger up doesn’t have any kids; that would be a shame.

    • barkar942 - May 28, 2014 at 4:46 PM

      That is the one thing great about HDTV. You can really see n detail the stupid stuff that goes on in the stands behind the players, like when Carcillo scored in Philly.
      Just think how much better Millbury’s shoe fight with the Ranger fans would look today if it were in HD!

  4. homerx - May 28, 2014 at 2:53 PM

    I find it comical that a player cannot post a bad game without his entire career being criticized. remember when Patrick Roy was pulled? But then again, he was probably one of the WORST starting goalies in NHL history.

    Where have all these so called hockey fans come from all of a sudden? And let’s not forget that Keenan benched Messier and Leech during their cup run; two more players who aren’t worth their weight in salt.

  5. homerx - May 28, 2014 at 3:05 PM

    Just in case you don’t remember when Roy was exposed as a fraud.

    • elvispocomo - May 28, 2014 at 3:30 PM

      A fraud? One of the best ever goalies in the NHL? Nice try.

      • homerx - May 28, 2014 at 3:39 PM

        Thank you, you made my point; please read more carefully next time.

      • rpiotr01 - May 28, 2014 at 5:05 PM

        You missed the point entirely. Even the best goalie ever has a bad game every now and then. You make the skate of shame over to your bench, pull off your helmet and deal with it. That’s it. It’s not a referendum on your career.

      • elvispocomo - May 29, 2014 at 12:20 PM

        So your point was that he was one of the best goalies ever in the NHL? Even as sarcasm that’s pretty hard to read between the lines on that.

        And as far as the skate of shame, getting pulled on an off night after 4 goals is nothing like not getting pulled when your getting hung out to dry for 5 goals against in the first period, then 2 more in the next couple minutes to start the second. Then, when Roy threw his arms in the air after the Montreal fans cheered sarcastically on his next save, Tremblay spitefully left him in for the next two goals as well, finally pulling him with the score 9-1 and still 8 minutes to go in the second period. His explanation? He thought they were still in the game.

        At some point you have to make a decision whether or not to protect your highest paid and arguably best player, and that clearly wasn’t Tremblay protecting Roy in any way.

  6. apro4kids - May 28, 2014 at 3:28 PM

    I too thought the guy was giving him the finger but when I saw a close up of the picture it looks more like the guy is holding up his phone to take a picture or a video.

    • elvispocomo - May 28, 2014 at 3:32 PM

      Maybe, an odd way to hold his phone though.

  7. djshnooks - May 28, 2014 at 3:32 PM

    Quick note for the Rangers fan who tried to tell me that Lundqvist is better than Hasek.

    Hasek never got pulled in the playoffs! 😉

  8. rupp246 - May 28, 2014 at 4:13 PM

    Due for an off game, will shut Habs out in game 6. Rangers 3 to 0.

  9. joey4id - May 28, 2014 at 4:15 PM

    Many of the Rangers’ faithful have been telling us that Lundqvist is the best in the world. Many of the Habs’ faithful have been telling us that Price is the best in the world. Have you noticed a theme here?

    To be fair both are very good goalies. Lundqvist has very good career stats, and Price was the best goalie in the NHL from Jan/2014 to the end of regular season with a .941 SV%, and a gold medal. Montreal has certainly proven to themselves that Lundqvist is not invincible, and the Rangers have not seen enough of Price, and are not having an easy time get pucks by Tokarski.

    There’s no reason to think Lundqvist won’t bounce back, AV handled the situation as good as one would expect from a coach. He pulled him out at the right moment, and didn’t put him back in when the Rangers got back into the game. It would of been a bonehead move to do so after yanking him.

  10. habs9 - May 28, 2014 at 4:29 PM

    Throughout this entire series, there have been nonstop complaints about the Montreal Canadiens playing the game in the gutter. Some of which is justified, some of which is moral grandstanding by fans and/or media with no leg to stand on. What’s been ignored largely in this series, is that the Rangers have been doing their fair share, and more.

    Coming into the series, Carey Price had put up a .987 save percentage against the Rangers over the last two years. The Rangers continually crashed the net in game one, and whether or not Kreider eventually injuring Carey Price was an accident, it was undeniably a strategy to attempt to do so. Since then, the Rangers have run Dustin Tokarski 3-4 times per game, with just a single goaltender interference call going against them.

    Add to that, Derek Dorsett headbutting Mike Weaver, Benoit Pouliot spearing Tokarski behind the play, Benoit Pouliot boarding Alexei Emelin, John Moore running Weise into the stanchion without the puck, and John Moore laying a blindside headshot on Weise, and it’s about time the Rangers get some bad press.

    • habs9 - May 28, 2014 at 4:31 PM

      Go ahead and boo away Rags fans, it won’t make it any less true, by the way this is a quote from a site not my words

      • moarjam - May 28, 2014 at 6:55 PM


  11. 7mantel - May 28, 2014 at 4:54 PM

    So you believe everything you read ? Those aren’t facts those are opinions !

    • habs9 - May 29, 2014 at 12:23 AM

      So I am to understand that you think the Derek Dorset head but for example didn’t happen??? Ray….Ray Charles is that you? I think you missed the point here which was that the rangers have been just as dirty and far from being as one sided as rangers fans would have you believe…..

      P.s. Things that have video replay evidence are considered facts not opinions…..yikes…smh

      • 7mantel - May 29, 2014 at 8:27 AM

        the Rangers continually crashed the net in game one, and whether or not Kreider eventually injuring Carey Price was an accident, it was undeniably a strategy to attempt to do so! THIS STATEMENT IS FACT !! The video replay clearly shows the slash to his legs were the cause of him losing his balance ! Dorsettts head butt not BUT was reviewed by the league and IS NOT worthy of a fine . So tell your tales walking !

  12. dolphincult - May 29, 2014 at 12:40 AM

    blah blah blah queen lundqvist. It don’t mean a thing if you aint got no ring. Team or no team support, hi hands are bare. You Ranger homers gonna tell me he is better than Richter?

    • bstar28 - May 29, 2014 at 9:24 AM

      Yes. I grew up playing goalie and idolizing Richter and still love the man. I think Lundqvist is better than Richter, and I think the majority of Ranger fans would agree.

      Of course, these things are always hard to compare.

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