Henrik Lundqvist

Game of the Week preview: Are the Rangers playing Henrik Lundqvist too much?

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During the last few years, the New York Rangers have given Henrik Lundqvist a staggering amount of starts for two main reasons: 1) he’s an exceptional goalie and 2) the team rarely has any margin of error, so they cannot play a lesser netminder.

Yet during this off-season, the team made a wise decision by signing an experienced, capable backup in Martin Biron. Biron seemed like the ideal No. 2 in New York; he’s talented enough that he actually started a bit in the league but flawed enough that Lundqvist wouldn’t be worried about a goalie controversy.

Lundqvist still received the majority of starts, but Biron appeared in 17 games (most of which he started, a few in relief when Lundqvist struggled) before he suffered a frightening collar bone injury on the evening after the trade deadline.

Because of that injury and the Rangers’ general tendency to play Lundqvist the majority of time anyway, King Henrik hasn’t missed a start since February 7th. He’s played 16 consecutive games between the pipes, with no sign that he’ll get a breather in the next 10 contests. (Unless, of course, he is sidelined with an injury from Friday’s game against the Montreal Canadiens.)

Now, it’s true that the Rangers have dealt with a slew of injuries during the 2010-11 season, with stars such as Marian Gaborik missing time. But Biron’s injury might be one of those subtle losses – and poorly timed ones – that might end up being big blow for the team. The Rangers have been forced to give Lundqvist start after start with Biron on the shelf, which isn’t always a great formula for success in the playoffs.

Even if Lundqvist is healthy enough to play every game, the Rangers might want to consider walking a tightrope between resting him a bit and ensuring their spot in the playoffs. Sure, the extra revenue from a few first round games is great, but if your team has no chance to advance in the postseason, then making the playoffs isn’t nearly as beneficial as it might seem.

So, what do you think? Are the Rangers leaning on their elite goalie too much or should they just throw caution to the wind to protect their spot in the East’s top eight? Let us know in the comments.

Pens coach praises Murray: ‘He doesn’t get rattled’

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Hot take: the Pittsburgh Penguins probably won’t deal with a goalie controversy going into Game 7.

(Ugh, that’s a failed hot take … you can’t use “probably” in those things, right?)

Matt Murray was fantastic at times during Game 6, much like his counterpart in the Tampa Bay Lightning’s net in a 5-2 win. Granted, there were some tense moments during the Bolts’ late-game push:

Much has been made about experience, especially from those calling for Marc-Andre Fleury earlier in this series. It’s telling that the praise Murray draws sure sounds like what you’d expect from a “veteran.”

“He has a calming influence,” Sullivan said. “He doesn’t get rattled. If he lets a goal in, he just continues to compete. That’s usually an attribute that usually takes years to acquire that, and to have it at such a young age is impressive.”

Thanks in part to Murray’s efforts in Game 6, he’ll get a chance to prove his resolve in something new: a Game 7 in the Eastern Conference Final.

Once again, his teammates seem pretty confident in this elimination situation.

Lightning lament Game 6 effort, Cooper doesn’t blame disallowed goal

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The Tampa Bay Lightning seemed to sleepwalk through the first two periods of Game 6, and waking up in the final frame wasn’t enough to edge the Pittsburgh Penguins.

On the bright side, at least the Lightning aren’t in denial about that weak first 40 minutes.

It seemed like everyone on the team more or less admitted as much in unison.

Brian Boyle added that he felt like the Lightning tiptoed around this game. Jon Cooper often provides great quips, yet he was pretty matter-of-fact in this case.

Many will linger on this disallowed goal for Jonathan Drouin, which would have provided a 1-0 lead for Tampa Bay in the first period.

Let’s face it; that moment came pretty early in the game. To Tampa Bay’s credit, they’re not pinning the loss on that setback.

Now they must set their sights on competing throughout Game 7 … and maybe earning some bounces of their own in the process.

Read more about Game 6 here.

Penguins force Game 7 after holding off Lightning rally

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The Pittsburgh Penguins played with fire late in Game 6, but they also showed plenty of fire in beating the Tampa Bay Lightning 5-2.

With that, this thrilling Eastern Conference Final will go the distance with Game 7 on Thursday.

There are at least a few “What if?” scenarios to consider, especially for the Lightning.

What if that offside goal counted?

Jonathan Drouin played some fantastic hockey on Tuesday, yet his most memorable moment came via something that ultimately “didn’t happen.” An offside call on a goal review kept a 1-0 lead from happening for Tampa Bay:

Instead, the Penguins poured it on during the first period and eventually went up 1-0. They then carried that momentum over through the second period, adding two more goals to go up 3-0 heading into the final frame.

What if Tampa Bay played more like they did in the third period?

The difference between the level of play in the first 40 minutes and the final frame were night-and-day.

Now, you can make a chicken-and-the-egg argument here. Did the Penguins take their feet off the gas with that lead? Maybe Jon Cooper finally unleashed the hounds when the Lightning were facing a big deficit?

Maybe it’s a combination of those factors; either way, the Bolts couldn’t come all the way back even after making it interesting. At one point the game was 3-2 before a Bryan Rust breakaway goal and an empty-netter put things out of reach.

Both Matt Murray and Andrei Vasilevskiy faced plenty of tough chances and came through more often than not. We’ll see if there are any goal controversy rumblings, but each netminder came through at times tonight.

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Now the series shifts back to Pittsburgh for Game 7 with a Stanley Cup Final on the line. Excited and/or nervous yet?

More: Great goals by Sidney Crosby and Phil Kessel.

Sidney Crosby scores a superstar goal

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With the Pittsburgh Penguins’ season on the line in Game 6, plenty of eyes are on big guns Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, Kris Letang and Phil Kessel.

Those marquee names are really coming through so far as they’ve now built a 3-0 lead through two periods against the Tampa Bay Lightning.

You likely already saw Kessel’s display of high-end hand-eye coordination (if not, check it here). Kris Letang scored his first goal of the series to make it 2-0 on a very tricky, well-placed shot.

The highlight really might be Crosby’s tally, though. He left multiple Lightning players baffled and beat a very-much-game Andrei Vasilevskiy to beef that lead up 3-0.