Tag: Edmonton Oilers

Henrik Lundqvist

Rangers’ biggest question: Can Lundqvist avoid a decline?


Every now and then, we need to remind ourselves that Henrik Lundqvist is, you know, human.

Sure, he looks ageless, and his stats always seem to shine (even amid an up-and-down 2014-15 season).The New York Rangers have gone as far as the stellar Swede could take them for about a decade now, so some probably think his greatness is as inevitable as death and taxes.

The truth is that he’s not infallible, and at 33, you have to wonder if a decline is coming.

Granted, people have been pondering a possible drop-off basically from the moment that he signed that massive seven-year, $59.5 million extension in 2013. Blogger-turned-Carolina-Hurricanes-employee Eric Tulsky provided a great breakdown back then, yet even he seemed to struggle in forecasting Lundqvist’s future.

Blueshirt Banter said it well while giving Lundqvist a B+ grade for last season:

Father Time is undefeated World Champion. But based upon the above, I think we all need to quit our belly-aching about the imminent demise, or decline of Henrik Lundqvist. He’s got some more elite years hiding in that glorious head of hair.

Goalies are a tough nut to crack as far as predictions are concerned, yet that’s what has made Lundqvist’s dominance so daunting: he seems like the one guy you can count on to be great (if not elite). Year in and year out, he gets it done.

The problem is that the Ranger still lean on him too much. With all of their spending and the 2015 Presidents’ Trophy win, it might seem like he’s asked to do less, yet Lundqvist and Cam Talbot camouflaged a defense that was shaky at times last season.

With Talbot gone and Antti Raanta in his place, it’s possible that the Rangers are that much more reliant on Lundqvist. What happens if he suffers another slow start and/or injuries? What happens if his reflexes begin to dull?

Much like the question of decline, the hypothetical scenario of Lundqvist falling off is probably familiar to Rangers fans (who are seasoned at learning that the answer has always been “Nope, he’s still great”).

What happens if the answer is “yes” in 2015-16?

It’s New York Rangers Day at PHT

Henrik Lundqvist

Throughout the month of August, PHT will be dedicating a day to all 30 NHL clubs. Today’s team? The New York Rangers.

The New York Rangers earned their third Presidents’ Trophy in franchise history with a 53-22-7 record last season.

New York then eliminated the Pittsburgh Penguins in five games of the first round and edged the Washington Capitals in seven games in the conference semifinals. However, Tampa Bay cut New York’s bid for a second straight Stanley Cup Final appearance short defeating the Rangers in seven games in the Eastern Conference Final.

Rick Nash led the way offensively for the Rangers scoring a career-high 42 goals and 69 points in 79 games. Center Derick Brassard also had a career year notching a personal best for goals (19) and points (60).

In what was his final NHL season, Martin St. Louis reached the 20-goal plateau for the 10th time in his career. The 40-year-old announced his retirement in July.

In goal, Henrik Lundqvist went 30-13-3 while posting a 2.25 G.A.A. and a .922 save percentage in 46 appearances. Despite missing 25 games due to a vascular injury, the 33-year-old finished fifth in Vezina Trophy voting.

Cam Talbot took over in Lundqvist’s absence. The 28-year-old finished the season with a 21-9-4 record to go along with a 2.21 G.A.A. and a .926 save percentage.

Off-season recap

It was a busy off-season for the Rangers.

After 15 years as the general manager of the Rangers, Glen Sather stepped down in July and handed the duties to Jeff Gorton.

On the ice, the Rangers dealt Talbot to the Edmonton Oilers and filled his spot with Antti Raanta.

New York also acquired Emerson Etem from the Ducks for Carl Hagelin on the second day of the NHL Draft.

Earlier this month the Rangers added depth at center inking free agent Jarret Stoll to a one-year deal.

The Rangers also took care of their own.

Restricted free agents J.T. Miller and Jesper Fast got new deals and Derek Stepan avoided arbitration signing a new six-year $39 million contract.

James Sheppard, who scored two goals and registered nine penalty minutes in 14 games after being acquired from the San Jose Sharks, remains unsigned.

Several Rangers are still recovering from injuries suffered last season.

Brassard had wrist surgery in late June and was expected to require four-to-six weeks of recovery time. Captain Ryan McDonagh, who led all Rangers’ blue liners with 33 points in 71 games last season, is still recovering from a broken foot suffered in Game 4 of the Eastern Conference Final.

Mats Zuccarello has been cleared to resume skating and have contact after taking a shot to the head from McDonagh in Game 5 of the Rangers’ first round series against the Penguins.

Mackenzie Skapski is still recovering from off-season hip surgery.

It’s New York Islanders day at PHT

Jaroslav Halak, Anders Lee

Throughout the month of August, PHT will be dedicating a day to all 30 NHL clubs. Today’s team? The New York Islanders.

The Islanders finished the 2014-15 season with a 47-28-7 record good for third in the Metropolitan Division; however, their first round playoff woes continued as the Washington Capitals edged New York in seven games. Four of the seven games were decided by one goal.

The Islanders have not been to the second round of the Stanley Cup playoffs since 1993.

“We were disappointed that we lost a Game 7 against Washington,” GM Garth Snow told NHL.com. “We have a great group of players in that room that are motivated to win a Stanley Cup, and I’m sure there are 29 other teams that are saying the same thing. We know we’re in for a battle. It’s a grind of a season for 82 games and just to make the playoffs is quite an accomplishment. Once you get in, anything can happen. We feel we have a team that can compete on a nightly basis.

“Two of the last three years, we’ve been in the playoffs. We lost a Game 6 two years back to Pittsburgh and lost a Game 7 to Washington last year. You hope that those experiences help a player grow, and that’s what we’re counting on.”

Captain John Tavares led the way offensively scoring a career-high 38 goals and 86 points in 82 games. The 24-year-old was a finalist for the Hart Trophy for the second time in his career.

Rookie Anders Lee had a solid first full season in New York scoring 25 goals and 41 points in 76 games. The 25-year-old finished ninth in Calder Trophy voting.

Nick Leddy, who was acquired by the Islanders last October, paced all New York defensemen with 10 goals and 37 points in 78 games.

In goal, Jaroslav Halak went 38-17-4 while posting a 2.43 G.A.A. and a .914 save percentage in 59 games during his first season with the Islanders.

Off-season recap

After 43 years of playing at Nassau Coliseum, the Islanders begin playing at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn this season.

On the ice, Snow didn’t make many changes to his roster, but he did ink goaltender Thomas Greiss to backup Halak.

The Islanders also dealt prospect defenseman Griffin Reinhart to the Edmonton Oilers for a pair of draft picks in June.

Yakupov’s a little too young to take McDavid under his wing

Derek Roy, Nail Yakupov

Compared to rookie sensation Connor McDavid, Nail Yakupov is a relative veteran of the NHL. Considering his bumpy path through three seasons, it’s no surprise that he’s uncomfortable with the idea of showing McDavid the ropes.

“I don’t think I’ll be a teacher. I’m too young for that,” Yakupov told the Edmonton Journal. “We’ve got lots of old guys to tell him things.”

Actually, judging by his interesting interview with the EJ, the 21-year-old may feel a little wistful that his substitute teachers won’t return to his side in 2015-16.

Yakupov acknowledged the chemistry he eventually developed with Derek Roy, a UFA sitting on the sidelines this summer.

“Especially a guy like Derek, who has played in the league for 10 years. He’s seen everything in the game. He could help a young kid like me,” Yakupov said. Soon as Derek got the puck, I was trying to get open for a shot.

“He gave me so much support and I was happy to be playing hockey again.”

Let’s highlight that last phrase: “I was happy to be playing hockey again.”

Just spit-balling here, but Roy could probably be had for a cheap price, and you could pair Yakupov with him for a third scoring duo outside Taylor Hall – Connor McDavid and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins – Jordan Eberle. The veteran and his pupil don’t represent the same threat that those other duos pose, yet they could enjoy some success against lesser opponents.

With Yakupov also needing to adjust from one Todd (Nelson) to another (McLellan), you almost get the impression that the Russian winger got the rug taken out from underneath him.

It’s a fascinating situation to watch, as he’s still very much in a sink-or-swim phase.

PHT Morning Skate: McDavid, Hall win their first Cup together

Billy Moores Cup

PHT’s Morning Skate takes a look around the world of hockey to see what’s happening and what we’ll be talking about around the NHL world and beyond.

The Oilers are champions once again! Well, sort of — Connor McDavid and Taylor Hall were part of the team that captured the Biosteel Cup, a 4-on-4 tournament held during the pre-training camp gathering of NHLers. (Sportsnet)

The Blue Jackets have inked Paul Bittner — their second-round pick (38th overall) at the 2015 NHL Entry Draft — to a three-year, entry-level contract. (Oregon Live)

Lee Stempniak, still an unrestricted free agent, really wanted to remain a Winnipeg Jet (Sportsnet)

Leafs d-man Stephane Robidas has resumed skating after recovering from a shoulder injury, and getting a screw removed from his previously broken leg. (Toronto Sun)

Good piece here on Andrei Vasilevskiy, Tampa Bay’s “superstar goalie in waiting.” (Sports Illustrated)