Playoffs

Changing the goalie won’t solve NY Rangers offense problems

The NY Rangers have offense problems. Yet after yesterday’s loss to the Carolina Hurricanes put them in an 0-2 hole, there was much discussion about who the Rangers should start in net. Henrik Lundqvist let in a soft one to start the game, that can’t be denied, but that wasn’t the issue throughout the game or series. Changing the goalie won’t solve the offense problem.

Talk, as expected, has shifted to Igor Shesterkin getting the start in net. Unless there is an injury, then Shesterkin is clearly the better option. However that won’t matter if the Rangers keep playing the way they’ve been. Lundqvist let in that soft one, but unless he put up a few goals, it wouldn’t have mattered.

Goaltending is always the easy scapegoat. Lundqvist wasn’t as sharp in Game 2 as he was in Game 1. But goaltending is far from the issue the Rangers are dealing with. The Rangers haven’t been able to get anything going offensively at all. It’s a little surprising given the fire power too.

For the series, the Rangers have managed a whopping 13 high-danger chances (per Natural Stat Trick). The breakdown is eight in Game 1 and five in Game 2. That’s actually quite terrible, and even worse when you realize Game 2 was the better showing by the Rangers.

Of the five legit chances in Game 2, four were at even strength. One was that 5-on-3 goal by Artemi Panarin. In Game 1, the Rangers managed 3 high danger chances on the powerplay. On *seven* powerplays. Unless the Rangers plan on using Shesterkin on the powerplay, then it won’t matter who they put in net.

There isn’t just one reason why the Rangers have been unable to get things going. A complete and utter failure like this has multiple reasons. But goaltending sure isn’t one of them. Rob’s thread above says it best – the Rangers are actually defending relatively well. They just have no offense at all.

This is the underlying issue with the team right now, and one that not many predicted to happen. Like Rob said, the defensemen are simply unable to transition to offense. The number of flips to the neutral zone, or hail mary passes, or just regular passes that failed is astounding. The Rangers haven’t been able to gain the neutral zone with speed. Without that, they can’t even get the puck moving into the offensive zone. That’s the problem. Unless Shesterkin is going to lead the breakout, don’t expect anything different.

Play your best players, and yes that means Shesterkin over Hank. However don’t expect different results if the NY Rangers don’t solve their offense problems. That’s the bigger problem.

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  • If you know hockey Hank gets some blame yes but him being the #1 problem ?……And if we replace him (and I think we will) and we still lose somehow people will find a way for blaming him for a game he doesn’t even play in .

    • I’m pretty sure you can’t be blamed for anything if you don’t play. It isn’t just about Hank, it’s about the whole team and how they’re playing right now — but that said, Hank is playing a pretty big role in these losses with 1-2 bad early goals per game (and in the playoffs that’s a recipe for disaster).

      Thing is the easiest move to make to improve their chances to win is switching up goaltenders — you can’t switch out 6-9 forwards, a few defensemen and the coach.

        • As you also stated: “if we replace him (and I think we will) and we still lose somehow people will find a way for blaming him for a game he doesn’t even play in”. I’m saying NO, nobody will blame him for a game where he doesn’t play. 😉

      • One thing that baffles me is that coaches are willing to remove a goaltender entirely with three minutes or so left in the game and yet virtually never willing to replace a tender with one who brings more offense with say a period to go.

        Say you had Lundqvist and Rinne both in their primes. Would it not make sense to always play Hank in period three with the lead and Rinne in period three when behind? Especially with a two goal difference.

        But nobody ever does that.

  • It is very tough to turn things around with little or no time between games. I am hoping that Brendan Lemieux provides a spark and doesn’t spend time in the box.

    Whomever the goalie is, we need to come out of period 1 with no goals against. If we do that, we can bring some momentum into the 2nd period. Our offense needs to play harder and with more urgency.

    • I may imagining this but this team seems more emboldened with Lemieux in the lineup. Cause they’ve seemed pretty dispassionate these past two games.

      I hope he rubs Shay’s face into the glass on his first shift.

  • I am sorry, but changing the goalie changes everything. The notion that the Rangers won’t magically score if Shesterkin is in there is absurd.

    1. First, there is the psychological. Does Panarin really care whether the Rangers are trying to win the series or if their goal is to pay homage to a legend and give the starting assignment to the third best goalie on the team? I suspect he does care and I suspect if affects his play.

    2. The single greatest cause of high danger shots is Henrik Lundqvist. The evidence is overwhelming. He leads the league in this stat year after year by a wide margin. It isn’t the Rangers because these shots don’t occur in non-Hank games.

    3. During the tenure of AV and DQ, the Rangers have won exactly half of the regular season games started by Lundqvist and exactly four out of seven games not started by Hank.

    There is something called Okkam’s Razor. The Rangers lose disproportionately often when Hank plays and they give up lots of high danger shots when Hank plays. Okkam says the problem is Hank.

    And you can watch the game. Sure Hank is great at highlight reel saves. But when Shesterkin plays the puck, he has a plan. Hank may give it to a teammate or to the opponents. Sometimes when he gives it to a teammate, he does so in a confusing manner. The typical goalie helps his defense. Hank is more of a wild card, sometimes a force for good, sometimes for evil.

    The first time Matt Murray, there was one period where it seemed Murray did to make a single save, that the entire period was played at the other end. But the truth is that the puck did come into the Penguin end and Murray was on it and rifling up the ice quickly. He contribute more to the offense that period than to the defense.

    Even on the power play, the goalie matters.

    • Basically when Hank is in the net…..the Ranger players just stand and watch,..been happening like forever…..so to single out Hank is ridiculous, but his best years are behind him….still Hank get no support IMO….

      • Rocky Ranger

        Don’t kill the messenger, but during the Fishsticks game today, Larry Brooks asked if this may have been the last game he will play as a Ranger. I’m not saying he will, or will not come back, but if these type of questions are being asked, and written about, it’s a possibility. Where there is smoke, there’s fire???????????????????????

        • Walt, If I were Hank, I would look to play elsewhere next season. This is now clearly Igor’s team. Don’t know what the heck is bothering Igor at the moment, but Hank has to move on…..

          • Rocky Ranger

            I suspect that there is nothing wrong with Igor, other than DQ giving Hank a chance to play his swan song, and exit on his terms.

        • Georgiev was #2 on the depth chart at the end of the season, yet somehow magically Hank has gotten ahead of him. I can’t believe DQ is not cutting him slack to grease his exit.

          Lundqvist does not want to be #3 next year and the Rangers don’t want him to be #3. The tie must be severed – the issue is doing it in a way palatable to the fans. The first thing the fans demand is a gracious exit (and make no mistake, if Hank leaves bitterly, the Ranger brass will be blamed).

          • Ray

            Agree, and that’s why I posted above the way I did. The fan base saw with their own eyes, and down deep in their hearts, know that Hank is no longer the “King”……..

      • So you contend that the reason the Rangers lose when Lundqvist is in is that the 103 skaters the Rangers have used since 2013 stand around while they have not stood around while others play goal. Yes, 103 people behaving bizarrely is a really plausible explanation.

        Any explanation you can come up with is a reason not play Lundqvist. The other players hate him and want him to lose – well maybe you should play someone else. He is so critical of his teammates that they are scared of their shadows; maybe you should play someone else. he is so concerned about his sight lines that players have to worry about where they go; maybe you should play someone else. and on and on.

        In the military, say you have a general who is a brilliant strategist, a brilliant manager of resources, a brilliant assessor of enemy capability, but has one weakness. The men won’t follow him. He’s a crap general.

        ************

        We have too much concrete data on Lundqvist to judge him by non-concrete stuff. A goalie can have an unlucky year, but in seven years, he has gotten the support he merits basically by definition.

      • He didn’t need support on the first two Svechnikov goals because they were softies. If you look closely at Hank he’s going down too quickly, before the shot, which is why he’s easily getting beat up high. Old Hank was patient, this Hank is trying to cheat.

    • I admire your tenacity, Ray. Also agree with your points. I made the prediction that the Ranger would win in 4, but I thought old man Hank was going to be on the bench. Gonna be hard to win 3 in row, but if Igor is there, I will not give up!

      • It’s not “win three in a row.” Just win tonight and figure it out from there…

        Igor is a different goalie than Hank, and they play differently in front of him.

  • So, the problem isn’t the *defending* part of defense. The problem is that the defensemen are doing a horrible job of transitioning to offense. I agree 1000%……The better teams have D men that can move the puck very quickly out of the D-ZONE….we do not…..or at least most of the Ranger D-men don’t……This is where hopefully Miller will help….We have too many pylons on D, and both Staal and Smith have to go….period.

  • Hank has been incredible as a Ranger and many people owe him financially for what he has done in goal for this team. Huge contracts have been handed out to players who’s many deficiencies Hank has masked.

    That said, this team played poorly in front of him all season. It’s the reason we rarely saw him after early December and non coincidentally, our game improved. Hank let in a soft goal in game one but was fine after that. Yesterday he did it again with an almost instant replay of a bad goal and another softie that gave the Canes the lead. He is far from the only problem as many of our top guys have been mostly below average. But it’s time to move on. Hank isn’t the Hank we all remember and this isn’t his team anymore.

    • Old Hank finds us a way to at least win one of those games. Eliminate the first two softy goals yesterday and we’re up 1-0, not playing from behind.

  • I’ve read a few articles that say the team shows a vibe in front Igor that’s very different from Henrik.

    That’s all I’m saying

    LGR

  • To me, it looks like Carolina is the better conditioned team. It feeds their forecheck and helps drive the transition for them. They look one step ahead in most plays, both physically and in their thought process. When it looks like everything is just a bit off and the NYR cannot generate much on either side of the puck, to me that shows fatigue. Maybe not extreme fatigue, but more than the Hurricanes.

    A lot of this play-in is going to come down to who had the better off-ice regimen during the quarantine, and Brind’Amour is a notorious fitness freak. No doubt he pushed them to keep in shape and not let up while they were off the ice. I think those results are showing up now.

  • Hank should move on because the Rangers cannot give him the support he needs.That is a team that scores and plays defense. He’s given the team his best efforts and needs support the Rangers can’t give him. It doesn’t do him or the team any good as things are presently.

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