Archive for Henrik Lundqvist
Last night, the Rangers lost a disappointing game to the rival Islanders in Brooklyn. The loss snapped a six game winning streak in which the Blueshirts were able to move into a temporary three-way tie for second place in the Metro. Since it’s Friday and we are all looking to kill some time at work, I have some thoughts…
1. I am not a big believer in picking your preferred playoff matchups. I generally find it to be a fool’s errand, but this season, I really can’t see any upside in trying to vie for position in the stacked Metro division. Nothing good can come from the meat grinder of potentially playing the Penguins, Blue Jackets and/or Capitals in the first two rounds.
As Sunday turned to Monday the Rangers are in a nice place; they’re riding a five game win streak with Henrik Lundqvist being fresh off win number 400. Without further delay, let’s muse all things Rangers with a focus on the impending trade deadline.
Every team has their needs and everyone around the league know what the Rangers’ needs are which beggars the question; when a team’s need is as glaring as the Rangers (hello right handed blueliner) is it at all possible to get value at the deadline? If the Rangers do make a move to improve the one obvious flaw that they have, it will take something very special from Jeff Gorton to not overpay and/or give up a major asset or two.
I remember watching when Henrik Lundqvist first arriving on the scene in 2005. Kevin Weekes had just gone down with an injury, and the soon to be anointed King took over for a game. Then one game became two. Then two became two in a row. Then three in a row, and then he was the starter, appearing in 53 games that season and winning 30 of them.
That was his first 30 win season. He would win at least 30 in every non-lockout season following, and sits at 399 career wins. Usually I’m hesitant to use goaltender wins as a mark of success because it is a team oriented stat, but in watching Hank you know he carried a number of those Rangers teams much farther than they should have been. Without Hank, the post-Jaromir Jagr teams are non-playoff teams until 2011-2012.
As the NHL heads into All-Star weekend, regular season games have been suspended until Tuesday. With the loss to the Flyers on Wednesday, the Rangers go into the break in fourth place in the Metropolitan Division, nine points back of the Caps for the top spot. With sixty percent of the season behind us and just a month to go before the trade deadline, I have some thoughts…
1. Even though it was a small sampling of games over the past week or so, it was nice to see a real bounce back in performance from Henrik Lundqvist. He has looked much sharper since the barnburner against Dallas. Much more poised on his feet, more precision in his angles and movement and more in sync with the team in front of him.
One of the biggest hot button issues surrounding the Rangers this season, and especially during this recently slide has been the struggling Henrik Lundqvist (last night’s solid performance notwithstanding). Larry Brooks even wrote a click bait article (which I’m not going to link to) about the issues in the Ranger crease.
There is no question that Lundqvist has been sub par this season. By any available metric, his performance has been below average, and significantly so when compared to his career performance numbers. In a vacuum, a .902 save percentage is not acceptable for any NHL goaltender, but this is not any NHL goaltender we are talking about.
One of the major storylines this season is the apparent decline of Henrik Lundqvist. At 34 years old (35 in March), Lundqvist is at the age where goalies tend to decline, and it seems that goalies do this relatively quickly. It’s fair to expect some level of decline from Hank, but there is a section of vocal fans that think Lundqvist is done.
Let’s be clear: Lundqvist is not having a good season by his standards. His .907 SV% is well off his career average of .920, his medium danger SV% is in the toilet, and Steve Valliquette mentioned on a recent broadcast that he’s letting in unscreened shots through at a much higher rate (I think it was 1-in-23 this year, as opposed to 1-in-40). However there is a difference between “bad” and “not Lundqvist.”
Continuing our midseason grades (defense here), next up is the front office and goaltending. Grading both is a little tricky, as the front office is just ramping up their efforts for the trade deadline, while the goaltending has been a bit inconsistent.
When grading the front office, I had to look at the offseason body of work in addition to the moves made in season. Considering the injuries, the front office has been a little busy lately. As for the goaltending, well I’m taking a different approach this year. Instead of looking at each player individually, I’ll be looking at both Hank and Raanta as a single entity.
Happy 2017, BSB faithful! Now that that the dumpster fire that was 2016 is in the books, time to get back to business. The Rangers have had something of an interesting week; a horrific showing against Buffalo, a nice bounce back win against Philly, some defensive adjustments and a looming matchup with the red-hot Blue Jackets. Unfortunately, the Caps bludgeoned Columbus last night, so we won’t get to see our potentially record breaking showdown, but that doesn’t mean I don’t have some thoughts…
1) Since the back-to-back shellacking’s against Minnesota and Pittsburgh, the Rangers have had a very soft schedule, and for the most part, have taken advantage. There were some suspect performances along the way, but you could do a whole lot worse than 4-1 through that stretch.
Last night during the Rangers 2-0 win over the Dallas Stars, Henrik Lundqvist was absolutely decimated by an extremely dirty hit from Cody Eakin (see below). Lundqvist left the ice for league mandated concussion protocols, but returned approximately five minutes later to ultimately finish the game and the shutout.
There does not seem to be much doubt around the league that the hit was deplorable and Eakin is deserving of supplementary discipline. However, it has again spurned the discussion of the Rangers’ response to the hit and the role of goaltenders and their safety outside the sanctum of their crease. I’d like to talk about both of those things today.
In case you missed it, and if you’re reading this you didn’t, Antti Raanta has been the starting goalie for the past three games. He’s won all three games, with the last two via shutout. Alain Vigneault seems content with riding the hot hand, which means Henrik Lundqvist –who has “struggled” this season– is riding pine.
There is a very vocal minority that thinks the Rangers should be starting Raanta going forward, even if/when Hank regains his Hank-like form. It is unlikely that happens, as Lundqvist will likely return to his starting role soon, but it’s still a possibility that Raanta continues to play well and get more starts.
All of this leads to whether or not there is a goalie controversy in New York. But to answer the question, perhaps we should do some actual digging into how the Rangers play with each goalie in net.