Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Why the Ranger will be better next year - Part 3 - Lundqvist

For the last 2 days we've been talking about why the Rangers will be better next year than last year. So far we've mentioned Physical Conditioning and Toughness. Here's a third reason:
Lundgvist will be better.

In his first 3 years in the league, Henrik was a top 3 goaltender - a finalist for the NHL award for the best netminder of the season.

But last year he was not - and his game - while still very very good - over all seemed to slip a notch. For the Rangers to get further in to the playoffs next year - Lundqvist has to reclaim his elite status. And here at Blueshirt Brothers we think he can do it. Here's why:

Henrik's flaw is not high on the glove side. It's not that he drops to his knees too soon. These criticisms are baseless. It reminds me of a star pitcher (like Johan Santana) who pitches very well but whose team can't score runs for him (again, like Johan Santana). What happens is that each run (or goal) he let's up is magnified because his team can't score. When Johan loses 2-1 we look at the 2 runs as a breakdown. But put Johan on the Yankees - he wins 7-2 and everyone just talks about how great he is.

It's the same with Lundqvist. When the Rangers don't score it puts tremendous pressure on Henrik - and magnifies all the goals he does let up.

So Reason 1 - if the Rangers can score more next year - and with Gaborik and Tortorella's up-tempo style they will - this takes pressure of Henrik.

Reason 2: That up-tempo Tortorella style does more than score goals - it keeps the puck far away from Lundqvist. That too will make things easier for our Swedish backstop. Under Tom Renny the Rangers fell back on defense and tried to win 1-0. As a result it was a shooting gallery with Henrik in the bulleye. With a full season under coach Torts, Lundqvist will face less shots and less pressure and should hold up better.

Reason 3 - Tortorella will rest Lundqvist. Tom Renny rode his goaltender ragged all season. Henrik had more starts than any other goaltender in the NHL last year - and he simply ran out of gas at the end. Torts tried to rest Henrik - but the Rangers we're fighting for that last spot and Valliquete kept losing his starts. With a full season to work with Torts will have Lundgvist rested and ready come playoff time.

Henrik is one of the NHLs top goalies ever in save percentage - better than that Marty Broeder guy for example. With the changes we expect next year we think we'll see Lundgvist return to elite status and the Rangers will rise again.

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