Rick Nash needs to find twine again. Starting tonight.
It’s a game day. It’s the Florida Panthers who always seem to trip up our boys in blue. If ever there was an occasion not to play down to the level of your opponents it’s tonight. Let’s jump into the musings.
Rick Nash needs to be better. The past few games – starting with a few turnovers against the Islanders – he hasn’t been that dominant forward we’ve enjoyed for the most part of the year. This is the time of the year you need your best to be your best. That said, I think we see a strong game from Nash tonight.
For those of you that haven’t seen it, this is a nice little article on Lundqvist, on TSN. Just shows even without being a particularly old goalie, how much respect Lundqvist carries and what kind of impact he’s had on the league. There are probably many league goalies that look to The King for tips.
This time of the year, it’s about results. These next three games are in my view not just must wins but should wins. A team that needs points with the Rangers’ talent level should be maxing points in this next three. In fact, if the Rangers play to their talent level (a big ask this season for sure) there’s no reason they cannot win at least five of six. Big ask, but doable.
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Mike Stobe/Getty Images
In his pre-game interview, John Tortorella was asked “what will it take to win this game?”. His response was that sometimes you can outplay the other guys and still not win. That’s exactly what happened tonight as the Rangers were able to escape Long Island with two points after being outplayed by a ridiculously fast Islander team. The 1-0 overtime win came on the back of Henrik Lundqvist’s first shutout of the season, and an absolute beauty of a snipe by Dan Girardi. Only one goal to break down in this one…
Rangers 1, Islanders 0
During the final minutes of overtime, the Rangers recovered the puck in the top of their defensive zone. Two quick breakout passes later and Derick Brassard carried the puck across the Islander blue line. Dan Girardi intelligently read the defense converging on Brassard and snuck in behind undetected. Brassard sauced a beauty between the D, and Girardi carried the puck toward the near side of the goal. He saw some open real estate above Nabokov’s right shoulder, and sniped it top corner, right off the elbow. Read more »
Since Chris is on his annual pilgrimage to the US of A, you’re all stuck with me for this week’s musings. I know my questions won’t be anywhere near as poignant or provocative as my colleague from across the pond, but I’m gonna give it the old college try…
After not having seen the Maple Leafs since the middle of January, I’ll admit I was expecting more of the same from Toronto. I was incorrect. That team is a pain to play against. They run an aggressive forecheck and are deadly in transition. They are going to make someone’s life very difficult in the first round. As long as their goaltending holds up…
Torts shuffled the lines around big time last night. While I really enjoy seeing the Nash-Stepan-Cally line together, I understand Tort’s thinking. The Phaneuf matchup was killing that line and Tort’s needed to give Toronto a different look. I wasn’t crazy about any of the specific lines he created, and since the Isles don’t have a shut-down number 1 d-man, I’d expect more familiar line combos come Saturday.
I know Hags hasn’t fully cemented himself as a top-6 player just yet, but even when he’s moving up and down the lineup, I think it’s a waste to play him with Boyle or Pyatt. Read more »
Although he has been criticized –especially early in the season– and he is without a shutout (yet), could Henrik Lundqvist quietly have moved into the Vezina candidates once again, this season?
With Craig Anderson and his other worldly numbers surely out of contention because a lack of games (16 games is surely not enough to warrant consideration), Lundqvist has a few key differences to most of his Vezina competition this year. For the most part he’s suffered from a lack of goal support, while he has also had to battle to keep his team in the playoff mix.
Of goaltenders that have started 25 games or more, only Tuukka Rask has a better GAA than The King, while Lundqvist boasts the league’s best save percentage (again, discounting Anderson’s 16 game assault on the statistics). Then there’s the good old fashioned win column. The King has 17 wins which given his lack of goal support (The Rangers sit 26th overall in goal scored) is impressive, and places Lundqvist 6th overall. With guys such as Marc-Andre Fleury and Carey Price playing on clubs having more successful seasons than the Rangers, it’s hard not to respect the numbers the Rangers goalie has quietly assembled. However, how much will the lack of shutouts hurt his case for Vezina nomination?
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AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar
The Rangers dropped a tough one to the Pittsburgh Penguins tonight, 2-1 in a shootout. The play of Marc-Andre Fleury was the only reason this game wasn’t a repeat of Wednesday night. A truly sensational performance. While the loss stings, securing 3 out of a possible 4 points in a home and home with the Pens is more than we could have hoped at the beginning of the week. On to the goals…
Penguins 1, Rangers 0
- The Pens started to get their forecheck/cycling going to begin the third period. Chris Kunitz made a nice play with the puck behind the net, and found an unguarded Jussi Jokinen in the slot. He blasted a laser over Hank’s glove, and Pitt had the first goal of the game. Read more »
Photo credit: ctpost.com
While the next Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia are still a little under a year away, discussions continue on between the NHL, NHLPA, IIHF and IOC to determine whether NHL players will participate in the games. As it stands right now, all signs point to an agreement being reached to keep the game’s best players representing their respective nations.
In the spirit of these discussions, I thought I’d take a look at which Rangers might be making the trip over to Russia next year…
Henrik Lundqvist – Sweden: After a gold medal performance in 2006 and general NHL dominance over the past eight seasons, Hank is the guy for Sweden. Not even a disappointing 5th place finish in Vancouver could begin to dethrone The King.
Ryan Callahan – United States: Cally assumed a penalty-killing, bottom-6 role in Vancouver in 2010, often paired with former Ranger, Chris Drury. Callahan will play a much more prominent role on a still young US roster this time around. A letter is a distinct possibility for the Ranger captain. Read more »
Lundqvist has room for improvement despite solid numbers
At the moment the Rangers are –to an extent– treading water in the standings, but luckily they are not far away from the right end of the Eastern Conference. With Rick Nash healthy and dominant and the Rangers generally getting healthier, things look a lot more promising than just a week ago; especially when you consider the record with Nash in the line up (10-5-1) as opposed to out of it (0-3-1). What the Rangers really need now, is their most important player to get back to his own lofty standards; time to find your old self Henrik Lundqvist.
The reigning Vezina winner was solid against the Sabres, clutch in the shootout and during the extended period shorthanded, but once again he let in goals that Henrik Lundqvist normally wouldn’t let in. Lundqvist hasn’t been bad, and his numbers are solid, but he’s not stealing points, robbing players or making saves when the Rangers need them most. In short, he’s not in his usual Vezina trophy candidate form. To be fair, it’s tough to ask a goalie to be Vezina caliber for their entire career, but it’s what we’ve expected, like Yankee fans and Mariano.
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Image Credit: Bauer.com
Since the Rangers have been kind of bumming me out recently (last night’s domination notwithstanding), I thought I’d take a look at a relatively recent development in goalie equipment and how it has revolutionized the industry. In the skate department, that innovator generally tends to be Bauer. On both the player and goalie side there have significant landmark products that change the landscape of how skates are constructed, utilized and improved.
Starting back with the original Vapor line, Bauer sought to reduce weight, while increasing stiffness and quality of the materials used in skate construction. In 2003, Bauer had its biggest breakthrough in skate technology, the Vapor XX. This skate was the lightest skate ever built at the time, and absolutely took the hockey world by storm. I was working at a pro-shop at the time, and remembered thinking they had lightened them up to the point they felt like a running shoe. It was insane.
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When Gaborik shoots, he collects pucks. Just don’t ask Lundqvist…
Welcome to this week’s edition of musings. This week’s version is entitled Start-To-Worry-But-Please-Don’t-Panic. With a dose of positivity in my veins, let’s get into it.
Let me immediately address the Zuccarello, Fasth and Lindberg news. I do not think any of the three can have a major impact on the Rangers this year. All three are talented but Zuke can’t cope physically in the NHL (from the evidence thus far) and Fasth and Lindberg would require time to settle in to North American hockey. If they come in as depth then sure; utilise their speed, their confidence from productive seasons. However, if they’re coming in to be difference makers then I am not sure. They’re still young.
The Rangers offense has dried up more than the Sahara desert so the three goal ‘explosion’ against the Jets was a welcome sight. What did they do right to get three goals? Traffic around the net and simply shooting. If only they’d have been willing to shoot more in that game… but it’s amazing how these simple aspects of hockey still lead to offense. This game we love isn’t rocket science.
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Gaborik needs to step up, the Rangers need him.
I almost didn’t want to write this post out of protest at losing valuable sleep having to watch the Montreal game Tuesday night. That said, it probably should have sent me to sleep. Anyway, it’s another musings on another game day. Let’s get at it.
Brad Richards and Marian Gaborik need to be much, much better. Inconsistent at best, invisible at worst these guys should be difference makers in turgid affairs like the one on Tuesday.
Gaborik: I’m a huge fan, one of my favourite Rangers. That said, he’s started to play more on the perimeter again and is getting away from what makes him successful when he’s been scoring as a Ranger. We need to see him in open ice, yes. However, we also need to see him around the net, looking for rebounds, looking to sneak behind defensemen. Gaborik needs to step up.
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