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Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Lundqvist Knows Rangers Problem

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Lundqvist points out Rangers' problem -- consistency

By Dave Lozo - NHL.com Staff Writer

There's no denying the 2009-10 season was one that didn't live up the expectations of the New York Rangers. The real debate begins when talking about what led to the team missing the playoffs for the first time since 2003-04.

Was it the lack of scoring from everyone not named Marian Gaborik?

Was it a blue line that featured two rookies learning on the job for a better part of the season?

Were the players not buying into John Tortorella's system?

Did the team need a reliable backup goaltender?
Despite all of the reasons that have been bandied about since the Rangers missed the playoffs, what gets lost in the shuffle is they only missed by one point after a shootout loss to the Philadelphia Flyers in the final game of the regular season. That was the difference between experts discussing what's wrong with the Rangers and how they made the postseason for a fifth-consecutive season.

For goaltender Henrik Lundqvist, the reason the Rangers were on the golf course earlier than they expected came down to a one-word answer.

Consistency.

"I don't think we need to be that much better to be in the playoffs. We just need to be more consistent," Lundqvist said. "There were a few games when we just let it slip away. When you think about it, we missed by one point and we easily could've gotten that one point during the year. It's hard to be disappointed about the last game. We went on a good run there the last 13, 14 games. It was more during the year, really, when we let too many points slip away.

"It was a big disappointment. It was a tough end. When you think about it sometimes, it still bothers you a little bit. But you have to turn the page and just move on and get ready for the next season. It reminds you that you can't take anything for granted and you can't expect to be in the playoffs. You have to work really hard to get there."

That's why the Rangers didn't tinker too much with the roster during the offseason. The move that affects Lundqvist the most is the signing of backup goaltender Martin Biron, a veteran who spent last season with the New York Islanders. Lundqvist played in a career-high 73 games last season after Steven Valiquette was sent packing to the AHL's Hartford Wolf Pack and Matt Zaba and Chad Johnson mostly took turns sitting on the bench while Lundqvist carried the heavy workload.

After four seasons in a row of at least 70 games, it looks like Lundqvist might get a bit of a break this season with Biron in the fold.

"He's a good goalie," Lundqvist said of Biron. "It's hard to say now how many games I'd play this year. I'll just keep doing my best to play. If you want to play into June, you need a guy behind me that's going to play more than 10 games. In the past I've been playing 72, 73 games. I think it's a good to move."

But don't think for a second that Lundqvist was begging for time off after playing 4,203 minutes last season, fifth-most in the League.

"I felt good," said Lundqvist, who went 7-1-2 to close the season. "Going down the stretch, I was pretty happy with the way I was playing. But like I said, if you want to play for another two months, you might need some rest toward the end. Hopefully we'll have a good team and me and Marty together can help the team to win."

The other notable signing by Rangers GM Glen Sather was 6-foot-7, 275-pound forward Derek Boogaard, who spent the first five years of his career with the Minnesota Wild as a physical force. During a conference call, Sather said the driving force behind signing Boogaard was too many players crowding Lundqvist's crease and giving him snow showers. Lundqvist said he never felt he was under attack, but he welcomes the addition of Boogaard.

"I think we had guys playing pretty physical, but I think he'll be a great player to have for us," Lundqvist said. "He'll add toughness for sure. I still think we had some last year for sure. To have a big guy like that, he's going to add even more to the table.

http://www.nhl.com/ice/news.htm?id=538777


(Anyone notice in the above photo Henrik has his new crown logo on the side of his new pads underneath Bauer? It's cool to see he is finally somewhat embracing his nickname this season)

4 comments:

  1. If "the shootout" had gone the other way we wouldn't be talking about lack of consistency - Philly had the same season we did and you don't hear anybody talking about how inconsistent their regular season was. Last season does come down to one word and it isn't inconsistency, it's luck. It's sad that the media has crafted this theme without any measure and guys are buying into it. It's the "Idiot's Guide" template for writing article. Sure, Henrik said it, but it's the writer's story - they're giving it a voice. That said, I'd love to watch the Rangs coast into the playoffs, make it at least a couple of rounds - and there are reasons why we didn't that should be addressed. However, it's this whole inconsistency motif that I'm not buying. This is the kind of hackneyed journalism that fails to serve its base and ensures that the author gets that extra hour of sleep. One lucky bounce and it would have been us talking about potential back-to-back finals appearances anchored by the consistency of Henrik and Gaborik.

    Side Note: Let's hope Miller's photo session flashing hypnotized Henrik into stopping some pucks tonight.

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  2. Sure they could have used some more luck, but in my opinion last seasons team was just not talented enough anyway. They didn't have enough offensive, they did not have a true backup goalie and in addition to all that Torts made a mistake picking Jokinen in that shootout. I know Gaborik doesn't like shootouts, but in that situation you need to go to your best offensive player no matter what.

    And I have no doubt Henrik will get better with each game and be in top form when the season starts.

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  3. 1) Torts is always making mistakes (and then taking out his frustration out on poor fat Larry Brooks).

    2) There was plenty of fire power (at least enough to make it into the playoffs). Remember, it was the guys that came in at the end that put them in that fortunate spot to begin with.

    3) Jokinen? Why? Because he was the final shooter? Why not blame Christensen? The whole Gabby in the shootout argument doesn't fly for the same reason Jagr in a shootout argument didn't fly.

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  4. 1) I agree about that. I don't really like Torts, but I hope he's successful this year for the sake of the team.

    2) They may have upgraded towards the end of the season, and I know as we saw with Philly anything can happen in the playoffs- but I can already tell by watching these pre-season games that we have more talent & fire power around now. We couldn't rely on Brandon Prust to score big goals throughout the playoffs, right?

    3) That last shot was do or die. Gabby and Jags are guys goalies fear. In that situation, you need to go to a guy like that if you're lucky enough to have one. We are and he should have been used.

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