Jason Brough

The Rangers don’t need to ‘apologize for good goaltending,’ but let’s talk a bit about their PDO

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Alain Vigneault started his post-game press conference with a chuckle, then said this:

“We’re not going to apologize for good goaltending.”

And nor should they. The New York Rangers are paying Henrik Lundqvist a lot of money. Last night against Nashville, he played like his contract suggests he should play.

Lundqvist made 31 saves in the 3-0 shutout. His teammates, on the other hand, only managed 19 shots on Pekka Rinne.

Vigneault pointed to penalties as the reason his team was outshot 14-3 in the first period. The Rangers were shorthanded for a full eight minutes of the first 20 minutes. Tough to pile up many shots in that situation.

But having said that, Vigneault also reiterated the need for the players in front of Lundqvist to “play better.”

“We show them, we talk about it, we give them ways to improve, then move on to the next game,” he said.

At any rate, expect to hear a lot about the Rangers’ PDO in the next few days, or quite possibly all season. If you’re still not familiar with the stat, it combines shooting percentage with save percentage. Anything too high over 100 is thought to be unsustainable.

The Rangers’ PDO is an NHL-high 107.1, per war-on-ice.com.

The next highest belongs to Ottawa, at 102.7.

Now, granted, given the quality of their goaltending and the way some of their forwards can shoot the puck, nobody should be surprised if the Rangers continue to have a high PDO. They led the NHL last year, finishing at 101.7.

But when it comes to PDO, there’s high and there’s high. Right now, the Rangers are fully in italicized territory. The question isn’t whether they can sustain it; they can’t. It’s what happens when it comes back down to earth, or at least within orbit.

The Rangers host another high-PDO team on Wednesday when Carey Price and the Montreal Canadiens pay a visit.

Rangers stats (5-on-5, score-adjusted)

Save percentage: 96.1 (1st)
Shooting percentage: 11.0 (1st)
Corsi-for percentage: 47.2 (27th)

Gerbe out 4-6 weeks with lower-body injury

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Nathan Gerbe will miss 4-6 weeks with a lower-body injury, the Carolina Hurricanes announced today.

Gerbe suffered the injury Sunday against Los Angeles when Kings forward Kyle Clifford caught the diminutive winger with a big hit in the corner.

Clifford did not receive any supplemental discipline for the check.

Gerbe, 28, has one goal and two assists in 20 games.

Questions remain about this Blackhawks team

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The Chicago Blackhawks have been down this road before.

In 2010-11, after being forced to shed some key pieces of their Stanley Cup-winning roster, they got off to a tepid start and barely made the playoffs.

This year, it’s shaping up to be a similar story, though the ending has yet to be written. Maybe they miss the playoffs, a la the Kings last year. Maybe they make them and win the Cup again. At this point, both options remain very much on the table.

So far, though, the ‘Hawks have simply been a mediocre team. Far from terrible, but not great either. They’re 11-8-2 after 21 games. They’re 13th in goals for — and that’s with the NHL’s leading scorer, Patrick Kane — and they’re 15th in goals against.

“We can be better,” GM Stan Bowman told the Chicago Sun-Times.

The issues?

Forwards: Kane’s line has been the only one that’s really scoring. He’s got 32 points; Artemi Panarin has 21; Artem Anisimov has 15. The next leading scorer after that is a defenseman, Brent Seabrook.

Which is to say, the Blackhawks could use more from Jonathan Toews, Marian Hossa, and Teuvo Teravainen, and they could use way more from everyone else up front.

Defense: Johnny Oduya‘s replacement still remains TBD. Trevor Daley hasn’t looked like the answer. And while Trevor van Riemsdyk has made a decent case, it’s more than fair to wonder if the 24-year-old is ready for a top-4 role in the playoffs.

It’s easy to yes, he’s ready, and assume all will be well. But that sort of diminishes how important Oduya was last spring. There’s a reason the Stars were so happy to get him.

The fact is, van Riemsdyk has never played a vital role on the game’s biggest stage. That’s the big unknown for him.

“I think he should be progressing as we go along here,” coach Joel Quenneville said of TVR, per the Sun-Times “But the fact that we’re comfortable with him against anybody in any situation is a big step and it’s a good accomplishment.”

Perhaps by the time the postseason rolls around, van Riemsdyk will have progressed to the point where he can provide what Oduya provided. But if not him, who? There just aren’t a ton of options in the organization.

As for the goaltending, well, let’s not waste too much time thinking about that. Has Corey Crawford had his struggles? Yup. He’s had a really tough November. But unless he gets injured, there’s very little chance Scott Darling will become the starter. So why bother thinking too much about it?

The ‘Hawks play in San Jose on Wednesday. The game can be seen on NBCSN.

A ‘pretty reliable player,’ Ferraro should have good opportunity in Boston

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Bruins head coach Claude Julien used an interesting word to describe Landon Ferraro:

“Reliable.”

Now, that may not be the greatest compliment you can give a hockey player, but coming from Julien, it’s not nothing.

The Bruins nabbed Ferraro off waivers from Detroit this weekend. The 24-year-old forward will join a team that’s had all sorts of trouble keeping the puck out of its own net.

“I haven’t seen him a ton,” Julien conceded Monday, per the Boston Herald. “But even watching him this morning, you can tell he’s a good skater, a strong skater. From what I’ve been told he’s a pretty reliable player.”

Julien could use some more dependability, especially in the bottom half of the lineup. Last week, he called out his fourth line for its poor defensive play.

“They need to have a better balance,” he said. “With the fourth line the first thing is not to get scored on.”

Ferraro will be a game-time decision tonight in Toronto.

Roy: ‘We’re not happy to be dead-last in the NHL’

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Patrick Roy tried to stay positive today. Oh, did he ever try.

The Avalanche head coach talked about how his team “played really well” in winning the first three games of its current seven-game trip.

He also felt the Avs played a “good game” against Pittsburgh. “We just came up short,” he said of the 4-3 defeat.

Roy even found a way to spin Saturday’s 7-3 loss to the Capitals, saying “there’s not that many teams that are going to win games in Washington, I can tell you that.”

Still, even Roy had to concede that not everything has been hunky-dory this year:

“We’re not happy to be dead-last in the NHL.”

Which is understandable.

Unless you’re the 2014-15 Buffalo Sabres.

To be fair, the Avs aren’t actually “dead-last” in the league. They’re tied for last with Edmonton. And both the Avs and the Oilers have a better points percentage than Columbus.

So hey, it could always be worse.

Colorado wraps up its seven-game journey tonight in Winnipeg.

“If we could go home with a 4-3 record (on the trip), it’d be something good for us,” said Roy.

Related: Roy doesn’t he’s wrong to be so optimistic about the Avs