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We’ve received some feedback over the past few weeks that readers are looking for a more objective viewpoint on hot-button Rangers issues. In our insatiable desire to please our readership, I’ve decided to start the Playing devil’s advocate series, looking at both sides of major debates and lending our own conclusion.
For the inaugural edition of Playing devil’s advocate, I’ve decided to tackle the great Henrik Lundqvist debate (did you really think I would start with anything else?). I’m going to break down both sides of the argument as to whether he is still elite, and whether trading the King makes any sense.
Considering The King’s looming free agency and slow start to the season, the debate about whether he is worth investing heavily in after the season was kind of inevitable. He’s clearly looking to max out the term (a risky proposition with a 31-year old) and increase his current $6.8 million salary by a significant margin. This has (understandably) made more than a few Rangers fans uncomfortable. The question that is ultimately begged by this situation is: while Hank has been elite for the past nine seasons, will he continue to be elite for the next eight? Additionally, is his pedestrian start to the season indicative of an already-in-progress decline?
The case for still elite:
Any case for Hank continuing his status as an elite NHL goaltender starts with his track record. He has been the most consistently excellent goaltender in the NHL since Lockout II. This means little for trying to predict the future, but thus far, Hank has yet to disappoint. Read more »
I know you just had the musings yesterday, but I have a bunch of thoughts I want to share that aren’t worth a full post. Deal with it. Here’s some thoughts following the Rangers 3-2 win in Dallas last night…
- Is there really anywhere to start but with Hank? The King was absolutely out of his mind last night. Watching the game, there were several times I found myself gasping at his awesomeness. Dare I say he out Tuukka’d Tuukka’s performance from the other night. Hank’s positioning was spot on, he tracked the puck exceedingly well, and he hung with very tough second and third chances. He was an absolute wall.
- Man, it’s nice to have Rick Nash back. I absolutely love watching the guy play. His size, speed, and fluidity are all sorely missed when he’s out of the lineup. He has this way of just mesmerizing opposing D-men as he nonchalantly glides into the zone. I can totally understand why sometimes his teammates just stand around and watch him. Read more »
Frank Franklin II/AP
Since Dave was at the game last night and the rest of the crew was otherwise engaged, apologies for the lack of goal breakdown. However, to fill that void, I figured I’d share some thoughts following last night’s game.
I can’t help but notice how much more organized the Rangers look in all three zones over the past couple games. AV’s system requires constantly changing coverage assignments and a more fluid positional structure. I can see why after four years of the relatively straight forward Torts’ zone coverage why this was an adjustment. Seems like they are finally getting it with some consistency.
The goal scoring woes are an odd situation. Kevin did a great job of breaking down the shooting percentage situation, and if you didn’t get a chance to read that piece, make sure do you ASAP. Long story short, though, is that the Rangers’ shooting percentage is unsustainably low and will regress back to the mean and the scoring will come. Last night’s game was something of a prime example of this. Ryan Miller made some tremendous saves on pucks that would normally find the back of the net. That game should have easily been 5-0. Read more »
Update (3:30pm): Jason Missiaen has been returned to the AHL.
Original Post: Per Andrew Gross, Henrik Lundqvist has indicated that he is ready to go for tomorrow’s home opener against Montreal. Hank had missed the previous two games with a “minor” injury. Cam Talbot was very good in replacing Hank between the pipes, putting up a 1.94 GAA and a .934 SV% in two games.
It is expected that Jason Missiaen will be returned to Hartford shortly. No official word has been disclosed.
Per Steve Zipay, Henrik Lundqvist will not play tomorrow in Philadelphia. Hank missed yesterday’s practice with what was deemed a “minor” issue, but apparently it is enough to keep him out of tomorrow’s game.
Cam Talbot will make his NHL debut tomorrow.
Greg Fiume/Getty Images
As we all know by now, the Rangers have gotten off to a slow start this season. One of the more surprising factors in Blueshirt’s early malaise was the rather pedestrian play of all-world goaltender Henrik Lundqvist. It wasn’t necessarily that he was playing outright badly, just far below the lofty expectations that the fan base has for #30. After posting his first shutout of the year in Washington on Wednesday night, the fan base was able to relax a bit about the form of our number-one keeper.
Buried in a quality post-game piece by Pat Leonard of the Daily News, Hank was quoted as making a small but significant adjustment to his game for the tilt in Washington: he took an extra step out from the goal line for positioning purposes. Hank was quoted on the subject as follows:
“It was more on face-offs I took a step out. My positioning on the ‘D’ shots was a little bit better. A couple times in the early games I got caught deep in my net. That’s the way I play, but there’s been a lot of deflections, (so) you want to come out a little bit more, and today it worked for me.”
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It’s always easier to write the Musings after a win. Last night was a huge relief to many Rangers fans so let’s talk about it.
John Moore: If Moore continues with performances like last night’s against the Capitals, then he could quickly go past Michael Del Zotto in the pecking order. A quick release, a good overall game and solid defensively, Moore still has a ton of upside to be explored. His skating is very good and his upside is exciting. You get the feeling he could prosper under Alain Vigneault.
Mats Zuccarello is a very good hockey player but he’s surely on shaky ground as a Ranger. Yes, the season is but six games old but he’s brought next to nothing to the table, and that’s despite being on a scoring line. He’s averaging close to 17 minutes a game which is plenty. He’s not even averaging a shot/game at this stage. If he’s not producing give a prospect those 17 minutes per game.
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Lundqvist: must do better. (Bennett/Getty)
Henrik Lundqvist seems to have forgotten how to control rebounds, and his decision making around the net has been abysmal. Martin Biron can’t even stop a shot from the blueline. Every aspect of the Rangers (Brad Richards aside) has been awful to start the year, but it has to start and end in net, and the Rangers are nowhere near good enough in goal so far. It’s been that bad that maybe Glen Sather is reducing his next contract offer to Henrik Lundqvist as we speak.
To be fair, the Rangers defense has been almost as bad; coverage has been terrible, positioning and decision making even worse, and the Rangers goaltending tandem have had opposing players open in front and have often faced far too high a quality of shot. That said, it comes back to your goaltender giving you a chance and neither goalie has done that so far.
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Best case: Johnson is an adequate depth defender and is significantly better than Stu Bickel in spot duty.
Worst case: Johnson is no better than Bickel and the Rangers are back where they were last year if top-six blueliners get hurt.
Best case: Stralman continues to be an unsung hero for the Blueshirts and finally earns the attention he deserves with a standout campaign, including some gaudy power play numbers.
Worst case: Stralman’s hold on the #6 job loosens and Justin Falk pushes him for playing time. Read more »
Henrik Lunqdvist’s next deal – pivotal?
When Sidney Crosby signed his last contract with the Pittsburgh Penguins he did so without huge fanfare, while signing for a large amount of money over a significant period of time. Some wondered why the Penguins took the risk given Crosby’s recent history but the fact remained, the Penguins locked up arguably the best center in hockey.
While signing on the dotted line, Crosby left dollars on the table. Whether it would have been with Pittsburgh or elsewhere Crosby could have named his price to all 30 NHL clubs (yes Crosby haters, ALL 30) and each team would have begged him to sign. In a financial world where Crosby could have signed for an annual cap hit of $12.86m (20% of the current cap) he signed for a cap hit of 8.7m. Not chump change for sure but clearly money ‘given up’.
When Crosby signed on the dotted line he clearly cashed in (a twelve year extension worth an 8.7m cap hit is clearly ‘cashing in’) but he also made sure the club were given some financial wiggle room. He notably didn’t take the maximum contract on offer and in doing so set the tone for others within the franchise to perhaps do the same.
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