Originally written on The Rangers Tribune  |  Last updated 4/22/12
Lundqvist

The afternoon (night in Sweden) began with a special tribute to former Indian and current Ranger goaltender Henrik Lundqvist. Hank was presented with awards, a key to the city of Gothenburg and flowers, but what must have meant the most to him was the incredible standing ovation he received from the crowd at Scandinavium Arena. Every person in the building was on their feet, clapping and chanting "Hen-rik". Lundqvist modestly stood at center and waived to show his thanks, but the look on his face was what said it all. In fact, at one point he looked up to the high mezzanine and mouthed the word "wow" as his name was sounding through the arena. Definitely a very special moment that Henrik will never forget. 

Once the puck finally dropped, Lundqvist was tested early with a hard slapper that he gloved in a flashy manner, warranting an applause from the crowd on hand. The Rangers then got on the board first when Ryan Bourque made a nice headman pass to Kris Newbury, who lifted a perfect shot over the glove of Indian goaltender Anderson. I'll tell you, Bourque has looked better and better in every passing game and that play was sort of a microcosm of how he's been performing. 

Frolunda came back to tie the game before the end of the first on a rebound that Lundqvist lost sight of after making the original stop. Many were hoping for a shutout for Henrik, but they had to be happy with what they saw from the King following that. 

Led by Lundqvist, the Rangers were able to kill-off five minutes worth of 5-on-3s to open the second period. Henrik made at least four to five marvelous stops in that time and reminded the home crowd of just how good of a goaltender he actually is. And, of course, he received an applause from his former fans after every save he made. 

The Blueshirts obviously gained some momentum from killing off the penalties because they quickly came down and scored to make it 2-1 thanks to a Michael Del Zotto goal. Zuccarello was the player who made the excellent play to get the puck to an open Del Zotto, and that wasn't the only pass that Zuke opened eyes with. He also made a nice feed to Erik Christensen, who ripped a low wrister to the back of the net from the slot to give the Rangers a 3-1 lead just before the end of the second period. 

If he wasn't already, Zuccarello is now definitely a lock for the opening night roster after this game. Zuke's had a very strong camp and it's translated well to his preseason play. He looks much better with the puck than he did a year ago, and he's had the puck in his possession more to start with. Good things to see from the former member of the Swedish Elite League. 

The game's spotlight continued to shine on Lundqvist in the third period as he repeatedly made stop after stop on his former club. The Indians did finally get a powerplay goal by him late in the third, but to be fair, Henrik was sprawled out with no defensive help, so it wasn't on him. 

Before the third ended, though, Mike Rupp brought the Rangers' lead back to two as he took a nice pass by Brendan Bell and buried it five-hole. Nice to see a guy like Rupp getting on the board in the preseason and as you saw, he does have some skill offensively. 

Only four players really stood out to me in this game from a Rangers standpoint, and those were Henrik Lundqvist (obviously), Tim Erixon, Mats Zuccarello and Ryan Bourque. Erixon actually was the only defenseman who I thought played well because as a unit, I wasn't too impressed with their game tonight. 

On offense, Zuccarello and Bourque both were using their speed to their advantage and loving the additional space that comes along with the bigger rinks. And with Zuccarello having such a great game, I think Erik Christensen is on his way to the AHL (or elsewhere). 

If you want an honest assessment of this game, then I will not hold back. The Rangers didn't impress me much, even though there was a good portion of their B team out there. They were sloppy and took way too many penalties, and the only reasons why the won is because they were up against a SEL team and Lundqvist was spectacular in net. If this was against an NHL team, things may not have ended the same way. 

But I won't ruin the moment. I'm sure it means the world to Henrik that he won this game over his former team and brother and he can now take a sigh of relief as I know he was putting a lot of pressure on himself to get the W. The fans were great to him and to the Rangers as a team, and I thought it was a very classy move for both clubs to gather at center for a stick salute at the game's conclusion. 

Henrik couldn't have wished for a better homecoming than this. 

NOTE: Sean Avery left the game in the second period after being high-sticked in the mouth. He did not return. 

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