Henrik Lundqvist, King of the Shutout - NBC New York

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Henrik Lundqvist, King of the Shutout

The lead is up to nine points in the Eastern Conference



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    The early bird might get the worm, but no one gets the puck past Lundqvist.

    Trade talk is starting to heat up around the NHL and Tuesday brought much discussion of a possible deal that would land Columbus forward Rick Nash with the Rangers.

    The Rangers used Tuesday night's game with the Bruins to send a pretty strong message that the current group is doing just fine on its own, thank you very much.

    They beat the Bruins 3-0, extending their winning streak to four games and their lead in the Eastern Conference to an eye-popping nine points. 

    Result aside, it wasn't the most compelling argument that the team has made during its 8-1-1 streak. The Rangers managed just 20 shots and the 18 skaters on the ice weren't able to keep the Bruins from unloading offensively all night long.

    The one goalie made sure that all of that unloading amounted to nothing but frustration. Henrik Lundqvist made 42 saves, with 32 coming over the final two periods after the Rangers had jumped in front 2-0, and bailed out a team that looked a bit tired as the game progressed.

    As long as Lundqvist continues to be the best player on the league's best team, it looks like we're headed for a repeat of this year's American League MVP race when some people argued that Justin Verlander of the Tigers couldn't win the award because there's already a Cy Young Award to honor the best pitcher in the league. 

    Hockey has the Vezina for goaltenders, but there's no alchemy under the sun that could devise a definition of value that doesn't place Lundqvist at the very top of the list.

    You get the feeling that there are trophies of more interest to Lundqvist, which probably accounts for a healthy part of the reason why he's playing well enough to create these other debates. Lundqvist is so good that it makes it easy to feel comfortable with the rest of the roster even though the King never skates a shift outside the crease.

    For the first period, that was justified. The power play connected again for a Ryan Callahan goal and Derek Stepan created Ryan McDonagh's score by outworking the Bruins for a loose puck in the corner.

    From there, though, there wasn't much life in the legs nor many pucks on Rangers sticks as the Bruins dominated. The final goal came on a counter attack by Artem Anisimov, but there's clearly room for improvement outside of Lundqvist.

    The question is about the price you wind up paying for that improvement. Nash is better than Brandon Dubinsky, who has been rumored to go in such a trade, but seeing Dubinsky all stitched up after another game of working until he dropped spoke to the heart of how this team has gotten to this point in the season.

    When the pieces fit as well as the pieces have fit this season, it is hard to imagine tinkering with them. It is also hard to look at the way Lundqvist is playing without deciding that now is exactly the right moment to swing for the fences.

    Thankfully these aren't our choices to make, so we can just sit back, relax and enjoy the show.

    Josh Alper is a writer living in New York City. You can follow him on Twitter and he is also a contributor to Pro Football Talk.