Rangers goaltender Henrik Lundqvist can almost always be best described as being the main reason the Rangers stay in any kind of contention each season. He’s one of the league’s best goalies and he’s also the guy who ends up suffering the most at the hands of the inconsistent Rangers offense. He’s become a bit of a rock star in New York City for his incredible play and hit with the ladies of Manhattan for his impeccable taste in fashion.
One thing that may help him either earn the respect of the Rangers faithful or cause him some trouble is his sense of realism when it comes to his team. While Lundqvist and a handful of other NHL players get some pre-pre-season training in in Sweden, Lundqvist spoke with Swedish website HockeyExpressen.se about playing a little bit at home as well as what he thought about the Rangers prospects for the upcoming season were. For Henrik, he thinks this season could be a little bit tricky (translated site). Wonky Google translation straight ahead!
“The challenge is to try to be about winning in New York, it would be incredibly fun. I feel absolutely no craving to change clubs,” he says.
“Sure, it has been heavy in recent years and we have not gone so far in the playoffs. But we hope to be involved in the turns. Last year, the Rangers fought to the end of the playoff spot. It will not get any difference in years,” says Henrik Lundqvist.
“I think we will lose some top teams. There will be war at the line just like last.”
I really should just start learning basic Swedish because web translators just do not cut it. To sum it up better, Lundqvist realizes that the Rangers are going to be fighting for a playoff spot this year and why not? Last year they were a shootout win away from being the eighth seed. Meanwhile, other teams in the Eastern Conference that missed out on the playoffs have improved (Atlanta, Tampa Bay) while those that did make the playoffs at least stayed the same. No one is really going to drop off without notice and the Rangers have to be careful or else they’ll find themselves in a bad way.
Of course, Lundqvist’s play guarantees that they’ll at least be close to making the playoffs no matter what. Whether or not the additions of Alexander Frolov, Steve Eminger, Todd White, and Derek Boogaard can help the Rangers get those extra points needed to crack the East’s top eight remains to be seen, but at the very least Lundqvist isn’t fooling himself into thinking the Rangers are an instant Cup contender. Whether or not the fans approve of that is something else entirely.
(Photo: Jim McIsaac – Getty Images)
Hitchcock believes Blues’ Allen is ‘locked up mentally’
Blues fans and management must be wondering, then: what’s wrong with their goalies, especially with Allen? Head coach Ken Hitchcock seems resigned to allowing him to fight through it, if nothing else.
“There’s a lot going on right now. … He’s kind of locked up mentally and he’s going to have to fight through this,” Hitchock said, according to Lou Korac of NHL.com. “What we see at practice, we like. That’s why we put him in quite frankly.”
Alex Pietrangelo did the typical deflecting thing, nothing that this is a “team” and that there are “no individuals.”
Still, Hitchcock’s longer press conference makes you wonder how much trust there is in Allen and Carter Hutton.
From Hitch’s perspective, it sure sounds like he believes that the Blues are over-correcting to try to limit “goals, shots.” By trying to do too much, they might be putting themselves in bad positions. And that might stem from a lack of confidence in the guys in net, or in the team’s work in their own zone overall.
Let’s be honest. As much as we can play chicken-or-the-egg as far as a defense’s impact on a goalie, it’s tough to explain away save percentages under .900 in the modern NHL. At some point, your team needs more stops.
With the races for the lower spots in the Western Conference’s playoff picture seemingly tightening up, the Blues don’t have a ton of time to figure this out.
Capitals shine glaring light on Blues’ goalie woes
It wasn’t just that the Washington Capitals bombarded the Blues by a score of 7-3. It’s that they really didn’t need to fire a whole lot of shots on goal to get to seven.
Here’s a harsh rule of thumb: when both of your goalies play in a game and each one barely makes more saves than goals allowed, that’s an awful night. Take a look at what Jake Allen and Carter Hutton went through:
Allen: six saves, four goals allowed in 25:11 time on ice
Hutton: five saves, three goals allowed in 35:49
Allen got pulled from the contest twice, by the way. He’s been pulled from four games since Dec. 30. Woof.
Even before these horrendous performances, the Blues goalies have been shaky. Hutton came into tonight with an ugly .898 save percentage; Allen wasn’t much better with a .900 mark.
Those are the type of numbers that would make Dallas Stars fans cringe, or at least experience some uncomfortable familiarity.
Now, is it all on Hutton and Allen? Much like with the Stars’ embattled goalies, much of the struggles probably come down to a team struggling in front of them.
Even so, if you assign more of the blame to Allen and Hutton, nights like this Capitals thrashing definitely strengthen your argument. Yikes.
Rangers overwhelm Leafs, make life pretty easy for Lundqvist in win
Heading into Thursday, many were wondering how the New York Rangers will handle Henrik Lundqvist‘s struggles. Instead, the focus shifted to the Toronto Maple Leafs’ difficulties, perhaps specifically in dealing with Morgan Rielly‘s absence.
The Rangers handily won this one 5-2, at least giving Lundqvist the win. He wasn’t especially busy, stopping 23 out of 25 shots, so you can probably file his story under “To be continued.”
Lundqvist wasn’t oblivious to his team’s impressive overall play.
Lundqvist: "We didn’t give up as much, and it shows how committed we need to be in our own end.”
Really, it was all about the waves of attackers the Rangers can send at opponents and the trouble that caused for the Maple Leafs. It wasn’t the easiest night for Frank Corrado, in particular, who took a couple costly penalties.
Mike Babcock: The back end was in lots of trouble tonight.
The Rangers’ next two games come in a road contest vs. the Red Wings on Sunday and a home game against the Kings on Monday. Perhaps those matches will serve as a better barometer for where Lundqvist’s really at, as he passed tonight’s test … but it wasn’t a particularly difficult one.
So, is Mike Condon actually really good? He certainly was against Columbus
Considering their numbers heading in, many were perplexed when the Ottawa Senators essentially replaced Andrew Hammond with Mike Condon. Now many are perplexed by just how strong Condon’s often been for Ottawa.
Thursday might stand as the prime example that this guy could be better than many expected.
The Columbus Blue Jackets dominated much of the play, generating a 42-28 shots on goal advantage, but Ottawa ended up winning 2-0 tonight.
Condon already came into tonight with a solid save percentage (.915 before this shutout), and he’s now won four of his last five games. Three of his four career shutouts have come this season.
Ignoring his one relief appearance with Pittsburgh this season for the sake of simplicity, just consider his tough times with Montreal last season. He went 21-25-6 with a shaky .903 save percentage.
This marks just his 21st start and 23rd appearance of this season, so it’s not a guaranteee for future results. Still … it’s another example that goalies are as just about as unpredictable as they are crucial to a team’s fate.
More and more, it seems like Condon might just be a difference-maker, and in the positive sense this time around.