NEW YORK CITY – Claude Julien heard all of the pre-playoff series chatter that reigning Vezina Trophy winner and Swedish cover model Henrik Lundqvist held a goaltending advantage over the unproven Tuukka Rask. Lundqvist was coming off back-to-back shutouts against the Capitals to eliminate them from the playoffs, and the Rangers goaltender had also never allowed more than three goals vs. the Bruins in 30 career games against them.
But that hasn’t stopped Rask from outplaying his Swedish counterpart in the first two games of the playoff series, particularly in the second period of Game 2 when Rask made 15 saves and stopped odd-man rush after odd-man rush from the Rangers. Lundqvist has a .935 playoff save percentage and a 2.10 goals against average during this postseason, and holds the edge in Rask for both of those key goaltending statistical categories.
But King Henrik has also allowed eight goals in two games against the Bruins, and it’s instead looked like the Bruins are holding the goaltending edge in the best-of-seven series.
“When you look what the other goaltender has accomplished in the past, Vezina Trophy winner and what he’s done…there’s no issue there,” Julien said when asked about people giving the goaltending nod to the Rangers before the series. “It’s logical to make the comment [that the Rangers had a goaltending advantage], but it’s one of those things where it’s ‘Game On.’ We feel that our goaltender has played well, and I think [Lundqvist] has played well also.
“You’ve got to give credit to our team right now because we’ve managed to score some goals against a very good goaltender. But you’ve got to give our goaltender some credit that he’s made the saves. The second period of [Game 2] is probably a good example, where we had some flaws in our game, and [Rask] was there to stop the pucks. One of the reasons we won Game 2 was because Tuukka bailed us out in the second period.”
That could all change in Tuesday night’s Game 3 with Lundqvist back in his home building at Madison Square Garden, of course. But it’s clear all of the pundits that overlooked Rask before the series got started are re-thinking their opinions about both goalies since it became a “Game On” situation.