Archive for Henrik Lundqvist
Sorry for the lack of a detailed game breakdown, the kind you get to enjoy from Dave. Dave had the audacity not to watch game five and I haven’t the time to do a full write up either but wanted to pass on some thoughts on the game so here we go. First, a very quick look at how the game was won.
The Rangers have scored eighteen goals in ten playoff games. Needless to say, that’s an incredibly low total and would usually mean golf tee-times booked by now but the Rangers have managed to extend their season at least one more game. The Rangers did so by sticking to their game plan, admirably never panicking and allowing their defense to continue to play aggressively.
After two frustrating periods, the Rangers seemed set for the start of the summer as another defensive gaffe by the Rangers (this time Keith Yandle choosing a horrible time to pinch) saw the Caps break in two-on-oh against Henrik Lundqvist midway through the third. Lundqvist saved Curtis Glencross’ initial shot but couldn’t save the rebound which Glencross chipped up over Lundqvist to give the Caps the lead.
The Rangers never relented and tied the game as the clock was about to strike twelve. Keith Yandle, somewhat redeeming his costly error on the Caps goal, got the puck to Derek Stepan who circled back along the left boards in the Caps zone and dropped the puck to Chris Kreider whose shot through traffic took an oh so minor deflection before beating Holtby. Queue pandemonium. Queue overtime.
Tonight old foes reunite. The New York Rangers and Washington Capitals have seen a lot of each other in recent years as this will be the fifth time since 2009 the teams face off in postseason play. The Rangers welcome the Caps to the Garden well rested, but with plenty of question marks thanks to an indifferent powerplay, key players underperforming, injuries, and players returning from injury. We’ll get to the Rangers in a moment. Let’s take a look at the Capitals.
Capitals at a glance
We know what the Capitals are and what they do. The Capitals are a big team with immense top end skill and are a team who look to punish you physically. Forget about Alex Ovechkin and Nick Backstrom for a moment (if that’s possible). The Capitals will try to outmuscle the Rangers with the likes of Joel Ward, Jason Chimera, Tom Wilson, and Troy Brouwer.
If you include Ovechkin, the Capitals have six players up front who stand 6-2 and above who all weigh in over 215 lbs. That’s not even accounting for guys such as Brooks Orpik and Tim Gleason on the blueline, both of whom love the physical stuff. While the Rangers can more than hold their own physically and along the boards, this isn’t the type of series they’ll want to play.
The Capitals enter the series with better possession numbers to the Rangers (52.0% against the Rangers 50.2%, even strength and score adjusted), similar shooting percentages (8.8% against 8.1% at even strength) but –for those of you that place significant worth in the statistic– are a much better team in the faceoff circle, leading the playoffs with a 56% success rate. It goes without saying that if the Rangers spend a lot of time in the penalty box, the Capitals faceoff skills combined with their (regular season) league-leading powerplay will make them pay.
With the Rangers no doubt enjoying watching the Capitals and Islanders beat each other up in a seven game marathon while benefiting from some rare down time to get healthy, let’s think about the line-up’s round one performance and look at a few statistics as the Rangers look to move deep into the post-season.
- The Rangers defense played well against the Capitals but Marc Staal in particular can be better. What’s promising is that despite the unit’s collective, solid performance everyone (maybe Girardi aside) can realistically elevate their games.
- Stating the obvious: a healthy Keith Yandle will be a much more dangerous Keith Yandle. If Yandle is 100% entering round two – and Kevin Klein returns – the Rangers will have a big advantage on the blueline against either potential opponent.
- Dan Girardi was by far the Rangers best defenseman over the five game series. He also wasn’t overused which will surely paid dividends later in the playoffs.
- Klein will surely enter the line-up for round two, game one given that he has at least another four days of rest. Klein will give the Rangers another dangerous shot from the blueline. Who will Klein be paired with?
- Henrik Lundqvist career GAA: 2.26, career save %: .921. In the playoffs he sports 2.21 and .923 numbers. Lundqvist was incredibly poised in the first round. He was exceptional with traffic and his rebound control was very good. He’s locked in.
Here we are. It’s Friday and the Rangers are heading home one win away from dispensing with the Pittsburgh Penguins in the opening round. Naturally, I have thoughts…
- I didn’t get home Wednesday night until the first intermission. Although I had it on the DVR, Twitter was kind enough to let me know I hadn’t missed anything.
- Marc-Andre Fleury has been surprisingly good so far in this series. I know The Suit is not a fan, but you have to give credit where credit is due. His angles have been sharp, his movements have been controlled (for the most part) and he really hasn’t given away anything to New York.
- In that same vein, Henrik Lundqvist has been even better. With the Pens being forced to come 200 feet all series, since, you know, none of their defenseman can move the puck, Hank hasn’t had to do a ton. When he has been called upon, though, he has shown no rust from his nearly two month layoff. Hopefully the rest helps him as the playoffs march on.
It’s that horrible day, the one between games but the Rangers are heading into Friday with a 3-1 series lead. Life can’t get much sweeter as a Rangers fan right now. Let’s throw up a few random thoughts on Rangers goings on.
It appears Rick Nash will always divide opinion. Has Nash been dominant? No he hasn’t but he’s been damn good. Not just putting points up but always involved in the offense, Nash also continues to be one of the most defensively responsible ‘superstars’ in the game. Give me that kind of team first goal scorer any day. Star players on successful teams buy into a team first approach. The Red Wings of recent years always had superstars who could play a good two way game. That’s why they are always a contender. That’s what the Rangers have in Nash.
Understatement of the week: Derick Brassard’s new contract continues to look like a bargain. He has 21 points in 21 games against the Penguins. He has three goals in 4 playoff games. Brassard’s maturation into a quality, consistent center is complete. His enthusiasm for goals is infectious. Kudos to Glen Sather for taking a calculated risk by committing to Brassard for the long term.
The Rangers gave away two points today. The Rangers self destructed in their own zone with countless turnovers, poor coverage and the third line aside, the first period can best be described as sloppy. While Henrik Lundqvist looked rusty to begin, the turnovers and general play in front of him left a lot to be desired all game long. Let’s get to the goal breakdowns. Dave’s at a wedding today so you’ll have to excuse me for the less detailed breakdown.
Bruins 1-0 Rangers
The first Bruins goal was a mix of atrocious NHL officiating and rotten luck on the Rangers part, and of course, some bad coverage. After a scramble in front of Lundqvist, from the right hand side Bruins center Patrice Bergeron simply threw the puck on net from a sharp angle and Lundqvist gave up a juicy rebound, pushing the puck out into the slot.
A streaking Milan Lucic, completely alone, appeared to change the angle of his foot to push the puck toward the goal. Was it a kicking motion? Before the puck got to the goal it took a wicked hop, up over Lundqvist and in to the net. Ryan McDonagh was caught watching the puck, as was Chris Kreider, and neither knew where Lucic was. That said, the goal should never have counted. The decision on the ice was no-goal but inexplicably overturned by Toronto.
In case you missed it, Mackenzie Skapski was returned to the Hartford Wolf Pack yesterday. That means one and only one thing: Henrik Lundqvist is ready to go. After six long weeks without that glorious hair and perfect charisma, The King is ready to go.
If your memory serves you, Lundqvist is the best goalie in New York Rangers history. No offense to Mike Richter, Eddie Giacomin, and Mike Dunham, but The King is better than all of them. He was, after all, the guy behind the save that sent the Rangers to the Cup Finals last year:
It’s not difficult to fall in love with that man right there. That save is unbelievable. But the best part is when he takes his helmet off.
Good morning, BSB faithful. I scrapped my whole intro because it was terrible and I haven’t had enough caffeine, yet. So, here are some Ranger-related thoughts to kick off your Friday…
- The whole “goalie controversy” thing is already getting old. Dave touched on it already, so I don’t have much too much to add. Basically, no one is saying that Cam Talbot is not a good goalie. I’m also not even saying conclusively that he won’t bring as much value over the next 6+ year as Hank will, considering their difference in age. While Talbot has played great, he has still played in less than 100 NHL games, and less than 30 as a “starter”. Passing over a Hall of Fame goaltender right in the middle of a competitive window for Talbot is not the move here, no matter how well he is playing.
- Martin St. Louis’ injury really wrecks the flow of the roster. With the Nash/Brassard/Zuccarello line and the Hagelin/Hayes/Miller line developing solid chemistry and a consistent scoring threat, it’s a shame to have to break one of those up. Get well soon, Marty. You haven’t played up to your usual standards, but your bring depth and balance.
- I would obviously prefer that the Rangers call up Oscar Lindberg to play on the fourth line and move either Dominic Moore or James Sheppard up to the third line, but I know it’s a pipe dream with Tanner Glass on the roster.
When the New York Rangers announced that goalie Henrik Lundqvist has been cleared to return to practice, most of the Ranger Twitter-verse united in cheers of “WOOHOO!” But a few people stated that the Rangers now have a goalie controversy. Cam Talbot has been playing out of his mind the past few games, and has done a fantastic job of filling in for Lundqvist while he was injured.
Let me be clear: There is no goaltender controversy for the Rangers.
Talbot has been great after a few shaky games to begin his run as a starter. He’s carried the Rangers through major SH% regression, leading them to a likely division win and a potential President’s Trophy. That said, Henrik Lundqvist is the starting goaltender for the New York Rangers. Period.
In some very good news, goalie Henrik Lundqvist has been cleared to practice by team doctors. Lundqvist, who has been out for the past six weeks with a vascular injury suffered after taking a puck to the throat, will likely need some practice time before getting back into a game. The Rangers will also be in no rush to get their All-World goaltender back in net, as backup Cam Talbot has been outstanding in relief.
With the way the schedule is laid out, I wouldn’t expect Lundqvist to be back in a game until the weekend. The Rangers have back-to-backs against Carolina and Anaheim, so The King may return for one of those games. I’d still assume Talbot will get a good amount of starts down the stretch. He’s been solid and the Rangers don’t want or need to rush Hank back.