Lundqvist a game-time decision tomorrow, Vigneault challenges team


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Henrik Lundqvist is a game-time decision for Game 2 after taking a Marc Staal stick to the right eye in the first period of Game 1 which blurred his vision. AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar/Getty Images

The Rangers got good news on Henrik Lundqvist today at practice. After taking an accidental stick from Marc Staal in his right eye, the Swedish King left Game 1 after the first period. By then, coach Alain Vigneault left him in too long. The injury occurred with 48.8 seconds left. The coach sent Lundqvist back out to end the period. Patric Hornqvist scored with 17.7 seconds left setting the tone for a Pens’ 5-2 victory.

“After the hit, it was blurry and hard to focus,” he told reporters after taking full part in practice and being the first goalie off. “That’s why I left the game. That night it improved. I’m lucky nothing bad happened.”

If his vision was blurry, why did Vigneault keep him in? It would’ve made sense to have backup Antti Raanta finish the period. Maybe the play with Connor Sheary setting up Hornqvist doesn’t happen. But then again, he out-hustled a lazy Dan Girardi, who stopped skating assuming it was icing. Still, you wonder if his vision led to the bad rebound which Hornqvist buried with three Rangers standing around.

Fortunately, it looks like Lundqvist should be able to play in Game 2. However, Vigneault said he was a “game-time decision.” Similar to Penguins coach Mike Sullivan, who played possum with the Rangers, who assumed Marc-Andre Fleury for the start of the series. Instead, they got third stringer Jeff Zatkoff, who had a successful playoff debut making 35 saves for his first postseason win. Fleury’s status remains the same with the goalie unclear if he’ll be ready.
As for Lundqvist, he added: “I felt pretty good. Saw a specialist. There’s no damage to the eye, it’s the swelling making it uncomfortable.”
If he can go, it would be a boost for the Rangers’ chances of gaining a split in Pittsburgh. However, Vigneault called out his top two lines. He wants more from them. Aside from Derek Stepan, who scored both their goals, there were too many passengers. Mats Zuccarello will remain with Stepan and Chris Kreider to start Game 2. Why he wasn’t with them from the start didn’t make sense. Rick Nash is reunited with J.T. Miller and Derick Brassard, who needs to be much better.
The third and fourth lines remain the same. Of the bottom six that includes deadline pick up Eric Staal and Kevin Hayes, Jesper Fast (8 hits) and Tanner Glass were the only forwards who gave maximum efforts. That’s not good enough. More is expected from their best players.
Vigneault wants to see it on the ice. The time is now.
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About Derek Felix

Derek Felix is sports blogger whose previous experience included two stints at ESPN as a stat researcher for NHL and WNBA telecasts. The Staten Island native also worked behind the scenes for MSG as a production assistant on New Jersey Devil games. An avid New York sports fan who enjoys covering events, writing, concerts, movies and the outdoors, Derek has scored Berkeley Carroll basketball games since 2006 and provided an outlet for the Park Slope school's student athletes. Hitting Back gives them the publicity they deserve. From players, coaches to administrators, it's a first class program. In his free time, he also attends Ranger games and is a loyal St. John's alum with a sports management degree.
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