Washington Capitals 1, New York Rangers 2 (NYR wins the series, 4-3)
Those Who Shined
1. Henrik Lundqvist, Goaltender, New York Rangers
As I expected, the veteran netminder was at his best in the decisive game seven Saturday night. Lundqvist sent away 21 of 22 shots and helped kill the only Washington power play on his way to his eighth postseason victory in 2012. This effort lowered his playoff goals against average to 1.68 and improved his save percentage to nearly 94 percent. Numbers like these easily explain why Lundqvist is not only a candidate for the league’s top goaltender award, but also for the MVP award. And more importantly, it highlights why his club is still competing for a Stanley Cup.
2. Brad Richards, Center, New York Rangers
Talk about a big addition to the ‘Big Apple’ in 2012. Richards had a successful regular season as he eclipsed 60 points for the 9th time in his career, but he wasn’t ready to stop there. Saturday night he put a goal in the back of the net to give him a team-leading 11 points and six goals in the postseason, which made him a major contributor on the path to the Eastern Conference Finals. In the series with Washington, he picked up six of those points — a surprisingly strong number considering the defensive struggle in most of the seven games. This is one of the primary players New York will need to step up in the upcoming battle with New Jersey.
3. Braden Holtby, Goaltender, Washington Capitals
Sure, technically it was the veteran that sent the youngster packing; but, Holtby was truly a sensational story for the 14 games that he played in the 2012 postseason. Saturday night he faced 31 shots — quite a few more than Lundqvist — and was able to keep 29 out of the back of the net, while stopping both power play chances for New York. It may not have been enough to send his team into the next round, but I would expect that his wallet will be quick a bit bigger in the coming months — this guy is the real deal.