The Rangers have long relied heavily on Henrik Lundqvist, but during their first-round playoff series against Montreal, the goaltender’s margin for error was almost comically small. The two teams were either tied or separated by one goal for 96.5 percent of the series, or more than 379 out of nearly 393 minutes. In a series as close as that one — only one game wasn’t in doubt in the final minutes — even one more Canadiens goal could have made a big difference. But in what turned out to be a fantastic matchup of world-class goaltenders, Lundqvist was up to the challenge, posting a brilliant .947 save percentage and a 1.70 goals-against average. If Lundqvist had been just semi-brilliant in the series (instead of completely brilliant), the Rangers may have lost.
The conventional wisdom says that Lundqvist has made up for any number of Rangers shortcomings over the years, from issues on their blue line to an often-ineffective power play to a lineup that in many seasons lacked an elite goal-scorer. The conventional wisdom also says that the Rangers’ window to contend for a Cup will only be open for as long as Lundqvist is in his prime.
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