What’s up everyone and welcome to another blog here on BlueCollarBlueShirts.com. I’ll try not to go too long tonight and talk about the miserable failure that is Henrik Lundqvist. If you follow me on twitter, know me in real life or read these blogs, you know my opinion on the man – he’s an overpaid, woman abusing, overrated, cupless egomaniac! You know I feel that you can’t win a Cup with a Top 5 paid goalie in this new cap era NHL. We have not seen one top 5 paid goalie win one yet. Games like these, make me feel like the Rangers are making a huge mistake by not trading Lundqvist when he still has some value left.
I got a ton of twitter mentions, facebook tags, texts and emails when Lundqvist had a great first period in Vancouver on Tuesday night. As I said in that blog, it’s fucking Vancouver, the worst team in the league. When the Rangers play back-to-back games, for the last 2+ seasons, Lundqvist plays the team with the worse record. He’s padding his stats and beasting on crappy teams. It also helps when his team is giving him 4, 5, 6 or 7 goals on a given night.
However for King Contract and the NY Rangers, when the playoffs start, they will not play the Vancouver Canucks or the Carolina Hurricanes (Ironically, a game Hank also lost), or any other cellar dweller team. In the playoffs, the Rangers will play a quality team in the first round. Hopefully they play four quality teams in the spring. However, if the goaltending stays accordingly to the recent trend, the Rangers shot at the Cup is dead in the water.
And please – save me the charts, Corsi and all that other crap. Games are won on the ice, not on a spreadsheet.
The Rangers have been winning games this season because of their high powered offense. Scoring 4+ goals a night is not a pace a team can keep up all season. Eventually, the Rangers offense will come down to earth and it will be the goaltending, you know, the goaltending that the Rangers pay the most in the league for, that has to steal games. We’ve seen ever since that 2012 ECF run against the Devils, Hank can not carry a team in the playoffs. The 2013 team got decimated by Boston & were anemic offensively. The 2014 team was a Cinderella team and the better goalie won that final series. Hank gave up touchdowns left and right to Tampa. He was embarrassed and laughed off the ice in 2016 against the Penguins. This stuff happens, he’s getting old and all athletes regress.
To think that Lundqvist is still in his prime in 2016, heading into 2017 is delusional. Only reporter Sean Hartnett thinks like that. Hank is overpaid, can flash some brilliance against crappier teams but consistently gives up soft goals and has to lead the league in giving up goals after his team scores.
I know it sounds like I’m bagging on the guy and I am. However, I want a Cup. I just don’t think Lundqvist is that guy anymore that can deliver it with this contract. I know some of you like to say “oh you’re not a real Rangers fan”, despite me spending 5 figures a year going to games all over the place, on merchandise and other silly crap. I wouldn’t waste two hours a night typing these blogs up if I didn’t care about the team. I just don’t share the same opinion as 50% of the fanbase on the highest paid player.
If you’re on the Rangers bandwagon when it comes to this offense, you shouldn’t want the highest paid goalie in the league. You want a blueliner that can contribute or a lockdown defender who can shutdown the opponent’s best scorer. Not every goal is Hank’s fault (I know, a shocker coming from me.) Many goals come through deflections, cross ice passes or other fluky ways that no goalie can stop. I have no problem starting Raanta and looking to use Hank’s money to bring in an elite blueliner.
If you’re a Ranger fan, you have to decide if you are rooting for the front of the jersey or the back of the jersey. The best thing for the Rangers is to end the marriage to Lundqvist. They’ve done it with everyone else, from Messier to Leetch to Bathgate to Giacomin. For the Rangers to really win a Cup, they need to cut ties with a player who is not living up to this contract.
The Rangers had their win-streak snapped, losing to the Columbus Blue Jackets on Friday night with a final of 4-2. You may look at the boxscore and say, “hey you’re over-reacting!” but watching this game, Lundqvist followed one of his best games of the season (Against last place Vancouver) with one of his worst games of the season. All three goals he allowed were soft and inexcusable.
Many Ranger beat reporters, like NY Post’s Larry Brooks, said this was a game to watch. Many fans thought Columbus could beat the Rangers because of CBJ’s PP and because Tortorella has this team well-coached. Fact of the matter is this – Columbus should be scared of the New York Rangers and their offense.
To bottom line this game, on 11/18 – it won’t hurt the Rangers chances to make the playoffs. It sucked that they lost, but at the end of the day, the Rangers are still in first place and the envy of most teams in the league. However, games in November are not games in April and many fans forget that while they are puffing their chests out right now.
I’m a fan of Tortorella. The guy has won a Cup. Sure he can be an asshole, but so was Mike Keenan. Both of those guys have Cups. Does Torts take this Rangers team to the Cup in ’14 and win it? We will never know. I’m happy with AV, but maybe there is a reason that AV has lost two Stanley Cup Finals. I hope AV can get this team over the edge, the way Torts did with the Bolts.
There is no love lost between Lundqvist and Tortorella. I’ve written about this before, so search the archives or do a google search. Long story short – Lundqvist helped get Torts fired. There is no ifs, ands or buts about it. Funny enough, Lundqvist had his best years under Torts, because Torts employed a shot blocking and conservative defensive style. Sure Hank is getting older too, but you never saw these soft goals being given up left and right when Hank was playing under Torts. Hank owes a lot of his contract to the way Torts protected him over the years.
I am a firm believer that a lot of the Rangers goaltending success can be credited to Benoit Allaire. However, even Allaire couldn’t help out Hank tonight.
This was an off-game for these NY Rangers, but a game we were used to seeing last year. The Rangers offense couldn’t get over the hump and the overpaid goalie let you down. Games like this just make you wonder what will happen in the playoffs, where the Rangers will need to rely on their highest salaried goalie in the NHL to win games.
The Rangers and CBJ saw their offenses get off to a slow start as each team only had three shots at the end of the first period. CBJ played conservatively on defense, as what was expected. In fact, I wouldn’t be shocked to see other coaches employ the same strategy Tortorella used tonight when playing the Rangers.
It’s pretty simple. Don’t fear Lundqvist. He won’t beat you. Focus your energy on staying back and stopping the Rangers offense. If the Rangers can’t score, they can’t win. It’s easier to put pucks past Lundqvist than it is to stop the Rangers offense by playing aggressively. Goals will come against Lundqvist because he’s just being paid off his laurels & past accomplishments now. If you can slow down the Rangers speed, you can beat this team.
Before talking about the meat of the game, let’s go to the official boxscore courtesy of ESPN.com: (Maybe one of these days NHL.com will get their shit together!)
1st Period Summary
||Jack Johnson: 2 Minutes for High-sticking Rick Nash|
||Rick Nash: 2 Minutes for Tripping Boone Jenner|
2nd Period Summary
|No penalties this period|
3rd Period Summary
Assists: Nick Holden, Brady Skjei
||Matt Calvert (Shorthanded)
Assists: Ryan Murray, William Karlsson
||Boone Jenner (Empty Net)
Assist: Cam Atkinson
||Oscar Lindberg: 2 Minutes for Cross checking Markus Nutivaara|
||David Savard: 2 Minutes for Cross checking Jesper Fast|
Despite only three shots in the first period, William Karlsson beat Lundqvist with a 40 foot bomb. This was as soft as you can get. Lundqvist had a clean look at the puck. Karlsson was way back and shot it right at Lundqvist’s jersey. The puck went through King 5 Hole’s legs and it was 1-0. If AV is going to call Lundqvist “the difference” when Hank wins a game 6-1, Hank surely was the difference tonight in what essentially was a one goal game. (Columbus scored an Empty Netter, for anyone betting the over tonight.)
The Rangers have been the hottest team in the NHL when it comes to second period scoring. They are lighting lamps all over the NHL map. However, Columbus played the Rangers smart and even with two full days off, the Rangers couldn’t speed themselves to goals like they are used to. The Rangers found themselves down 2-0 after Sam Gagner was credited for a goal. Gagner shot at Lundqvist, Lundqvist bobbled the puck and put the puck in his own net like a terrified virgin fiddling with a condom wrapper on prom night. The puck was moving as slow as a “Walking Dead” walker, yet Hank knocked it into his own net anyway. So regal.
Leave it to Michael Grabner, once again, to inject life into this Rangers offense. It’s early, but how can you not consider Grabner for the NHL All-Star game? He’s second place in the league with goals, with 11, just one back of Winnipeg’s eventual Calder winner (if things continue to play out the way they are), Patrick Laine. Even odder, all 11 Grabner goals are from the even strength. Grabner does play on the PP and the PK which makes this even more amazing. I believe that out of the 12 Laine goals, 7 of them are even strength. To paraphrase the Yankees John Sterling – “that’s hockey Suzyn!”
Both teams played better offensively in the second period, adding a goal a piece to the tally. However, after 3 shots each in the first, the Rangers put up 13 shots to CBJ’s 14 in the second.
Despite being down to the Jackets 2-1 going into the final 20, Ranger fans, myself included, thought this team could pull it out. After all, the passing was on point. Hayes made a beautiful pass to Fast, that Fast wiffed on, in front of an empty net. Zuccarello made a similar pass to Zibanejad that Z-Bad mishandled. In a game of two Vezina winners, it seemed the offenses were their own worst enemy, not the goaltending.
Down 2-1 in the third, Zibanejad tied the game up with a little more than 10 minutes to go in the third period. It was what we’ve seen all year. Zuccarello, who always makes good things happen, made a great pass to Kreider from his defensive end, leading Kreider past CBJ’s blue line. Brady Skjei, an assist machine, went deep and handled the puck. Skjei made a play to Holden, Holden managed the puck and Zibanejad got the puck and boom tie game. Hank was off the hook!
Leave it to Matt Calvert, less than three minutes later, to score the GWG. Calvert, who was seen earlier gushing blood like a popped pimple off of Rosie O’Donnell’s ass, after eating a puck from Holden, scored a shorthanded goal on King No Cup. Calvert took a rough shot from Holden in the second period and it looked like a brutal rape scene out of “Law and Order SVU”. Not sure if Calvert had to go through any concussion protocol, but he was out there in the third period, with 30 stitches in his head, and because hockey always has these stories, came back to score this GWG.
Calvert got the GWG on a two vs one shorthanded play. I normally wouldn’t go nuts about the goalie on a two vs one, but this was bad. This was right at Hank and Hank, who seems to be in the cage with Conor McGregor on every shot, as he’s fighting off pucks rather than calmly stopping them, let it go right by him.
The Rangers blew a PP opportunity. Both teams went 0-2 on the night, but this blown chance hurt. The Rangers were moving the puck well and the puck jumped over the blue line and CBJ were able to get right to Lundqvist and beat the overpaid goalie. Bobrovsky had a great game and even the most diehard ardent Hank supporter had to admit, the best goalie in the game wasn’t the overpaid one in Rangers blue.
Down a goal with less than 8 minutes to go, the Rangers didn’t panic. Perhaps they were too relaxed. They didn’t seem to have a sense of urgency. Even under a minute, the Rangers finally pulled King Overrated and tried to tie the game up. They kept passing the puck, like the Rangers of old, rather than firing away like the Rangers of this season. To their credit, they won three crucial faceoffs during this time, and almost came close to the equalizer with about 15 seconds left.
It just wasn’t the Rangers night, as CBJ added an empty netter at 19:59:59. That’s good news if you bet the over on the game.
Is it overreacting to say it’s time to explore trading Lundqvist? Not for me, as I’ve been saying the Rangers should’ve kept Talbot after the 2015 playoffs. However, it’s the same old shit for Hank. Sure, he will have some good games in there, but against a good team, I don’t see him having 4 excellent games in a 7 game span anymore. If you can’t see Hank stealing 4 games out of 7 come Spring, it’s time to move on from him.
This will go on all season. Hank will play the crappy teams and win. Raanta will play the good teams and win. Hank will have letdowns. The Rangers probably and should make the playoffs. That’s when this regular season finally is forgotten about. For these Rangers and as it’s been for a while now, it’s all about how they finish in the playoffs. The Rangers can set all sorts of regular season records but in reality it means shit. What matters is what this team does in the playoffs.
You can go on and say Rick Nash this or Dan Girardi that, but at the end of the day, it was Lundqvist that held this team up for money. It’s also a new NHL where elite goalies aren’t winning cups anymore. It’s always been a team game, and it’s never been truer than right now. An elite blueliner will go further than an elite goalie these days.
Many of you are into video games and all these trade machines. Try this trade: Lundqvist for any other playoff team’s best player and/or highest paid player. Not one team would make that trade. Tavares? Kane? Toews? Crosby? Ovechkin? Not one team would want Hank’s contract right now. It’s a fucking business and it’s time to stop coddling Hank. We Want the Cup and if it means dealing an egomaniac, then so be it.
Granted, the Rangers didn’t play well tonight. That said, Lundqvist, not me, said, “Give me two goals and I got this.” Well he got his two goals and all he got was an “L” tonight. Ranger fans can’t truly think they will get 4-7 goals a game. The Rangers are built to be a defensive team first and if the defense, especially the goalie, can’t perform, there is still time to make moves at the deadline.
This whole blog said and with what we saw tonight, the Rangers are still in a good place. Next week should be a good test of their mettle, with the Panthers (return of Yandle & McIlrath) on Sunday, the Cup champions on Monday & Wednesday & the dreaded Flyers on Friday. We’ll get a better look at what this team is made of then.
Depending on my work schedule, I may be back Sunday night with a Panthers/NYR recap. If not, enjoy the weekend and LET’S GO RANGERS!
Frank Boucher for MSG Rafters!
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