Henrik Lundqvist

Henrik Lundqvist carries Rangers while big-money scorers struggle with injuries

When Marian Gaborik and Chris Drury went down with injuries while word surfaced that Vaclav Prospal would miss time because of surgery, it was hard to argue against the prevailing wisdom that the New York Rangers were boned (to use a highfalutin scientific term). Especially since their true star – goalie Henrik Lundqvist – started a bit slow.

While the Rangers are flying under the radar a bit, the team is a beyond respectable 5-3 since their big ticket scorers went down with injuries. Their scrappy, competitive play might be a surprise to some, but the main reason they are keeping their heads above water shouldn’t. Lundqvist put together Vezina Trophy – perhaps Hart Trophy- caliber hockey in the six of the eight games he started since those guys went on the shelf.

A 4-2 record might not seem that amazing until you look at his impressive numbers.

(click to enlarge)

While you can see most of the details in that graphic, let me share some of the high points.

  • Allowing 12 goals in only six games is pretty impressive to begin with, but doing so when your team allows 34.7 shots per game makes it an outstanding number.
  • Lundqvist only had one game with a sub-90 save percentage, in a loss against the Carolina Hurricanes.
  • He hit 94 percent or better in four of those six games, including a shutout on the road against Toronto. In fact, his save percentage totals about 94.23 in this span.

With the Chicago Blackhawks winning a Cup with Antti Niemi and plenty of teams having recent success with previously unknown goalies, many people might question the need for a “marquee” or “franchise” netminder. Yet, if you look at the Rangers, they would be in enormous trouble without their stupendous Swedish stopper.

That’s because Lundqvist delivers when the Rangers need him the most.

NHL has no plans to change waiver rules

Manny Malhotra Ryan Stanton
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Even with all the young players that have been healthy scratches this season, don’t expect the NHL to change its waiver rules.

Deputy commissioner Bill Daly told PHT in an email that it’s not something that’s “ever been considered.”

“For better or worse that’s what waiver rules are there for,” Daly wrote. “They force Clubs to make tough decisions.”

Today, Montreal defenseman Jarred Tinordi became the latest waiver-eligible youngster to be sent to the AHL on a two-week conditioning loan.

Tinordi, 23, has yet to play a single game for the Habs this season. If he were still exempt from waivers, he’d have undoubtedly been sent to the AHL long before he had to watch so many NHL games from the press box.

In light of situations like Tinordi’s, some have suggested the NHL change the rules. Currently, the only risk-free way for waiver-eligible players to get playing time in the AHL is via conditioning stint, and, as mentioned, those are limited to 14 days in length.

So the Habs will, indeed, need to make a “tough decision” when Tinordi’s conditioning stint is up. Do they put him in the lineup? Do they keep him in the press box and wait for an injury or some other circumstance to create an opportunity for him to play? Do they risk losing him to waivers by attempting to send him to the AHL? Do they trade him?

Your call, Marc Bergevin.

Related: Stanislav Galiev is stuck in the NHL

Ortio clears waivers, assigned to Flames’ AHL team

Joni Ortio
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Joni Ortio has cleared waivers and been assigned to AHL Stockton, the Calgary Flames announced today.

The 24-year-old goalie was always likely to clear, what with his dreadful numbers this season (0-2-1, .868),

But we suppose there was always the chance he’d get picked up, so it’s a relief for the Flames all the same. With a little more time to hone his game in the AHL, Ortio could still turn out to be a quality NHL netminder.

In a related move, veteran goalie Jonas Hiller has been activated from injured reserve. Hiller and Karri Ramo are the only goalies on the Flames’ active roster now.

Price placed on injured reserve; Yakupov to miss 2-4 weeks with sprained ankle

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Two injury updates in one post.

First, the situation with Montreal goalie Carey Price, who was hurt last night versus the Rangers.

According to Canadiens coach Michel Therrien, Price has been placed on injured reserve with a lower-body injury. That means he’ll be out at least a week, though no exact timeline was provided.

“We don’t know how long Carey will be out, but for us it’s business as usual,” said Therrien.

Mike Condon will get the start tomorrow in New Jersey.

As for Oilers forward Nail Yakupov, he’ll be out 2-4 weeks after spraining his ankle last night in Carolina while getting tangled up with a linesman.

Getzlaf didn’t love the ‘dead’ atmosphere at Coyotes game

Martin Erat, Ryan Getzlaf

Ducks captain Ryan Getzlaf wasn’t impressed with at least two things last night in Arizona:

1. His team’s performance in a 4-2 loss to the Coyotes.
2. The atmosphere inside Gila River Arena, where the announced attendance was just 11,578.

“It’s hard. When you come into a building … it’s dead,” Getzlaf told the O.C. Register. “Nothing against the fans. It’s hard to fill a big building like this and have the amount of people in it to build your energy. So you have to do it yourself. You have to be ready when you step on the ice. I thought we came out flat.”

Anaheim’s record fell to 8-11-4 with the defeat.

The Coyotes’ average attendance also fell, to 13,144 in eight games.