Thursday, May 07, 2015

N.Y. Rangers: Be Lazy, Blame Henrik


Where are all the King's horses, and where are all the King's men?
Can Alain Vigneault get this team back in sync again?

Capitals lead series 3-1
I - WAS 2; NYR 1
II - NYR 3; WAS 2
III - WAS 1; NYR 0
IV - WAS 2; NYR 1

Game Five
Washington Capitals

NEW YORK RANGERS: Blueshirts Hockey 101 - Stop Blaming Henrik. It Makes You Sound Stupid.

Part of the reason why I started this blog was because I have my own opinions, and frankly, I find myself disagreeing with a substantial portion of the radio views, or in some cases, don't care much for their elitism.

I hardly, if ever, waste my time taking jabs at talkies.  However, there's one matter which becomes topical this time of year - one of which I can no longer withhold my grievance.

After Wednesday night's loss to the Capitals, I could have told you word for word, what those dumb asses would have been talking about on Thursday:

"Henrik needs to be better; 
he needs to stand on his head; 
he needs to shutout the Capitals.  
He is failing the Rangers.
Braden Holtby is outplaying Henrik.
Henrik Lundqvist is not an elite goalie."

They've been singing this same song for too many years now.  For a hockey-minded talkie, the above could have been passed-off as just lazy analysis after a long night out.  But for the unlearned media, that's just plain ignorant of them to say.  Whenever the Rangers fall behind in a series, Lundqvist's name is the one they always resort to.  It's the easy, safe, and uninformed thing to do.

Look, I'm just a dude with a blog and an opinion, but I'm yet to say anything remotely negative regarding Henrik Lundqvist this entire post-season, because, the man is a non-issue!

That said, I get a kick out of real hockey authorities coming on their show as guests, and summarily rejecting everything previously postulated by the host.

There's one word (used above) that might provide you with a hint as to whom I'm really talking about.  I'll give you another hint - he's an egomaniac, and an overly intellectual dolt - even about stuff he's a so called expert on.  There is another runt sitting on the panel these days, and the same goes for him as well.  Only the third member of the show is a true hockey aficionado.

With regards to the aforementioned two, for as much as they prefer not to hear it, truth is truth.  If they don't know hockey, they shouldn't pretend like they do, and shouldn't push the notion they do.   Don't then turn against the listeners when they criticize you for not knowing hockey to the extent you know baseball, basketball, or football.  Hockey fans are unlike baseball, football, and basketball fans, because, yes, hockey is a different kind of sport.  They're on skates, do not play with a ball yet they carry sticks, and fighting is part of the game.

How alien, I know.

These guys even had the nerve to say the Rangers were playing a version of themselves under John Tortorella - actually quite insightful.  Funny..., I've already been through that:


Unfortunately, this is what I mostly hear from them:

  • There's 10 guys skating around, bumping into each other and being inconsequential, and, the goalie needs to be perfect or else they'll lose.

There are good talkies who freely admit they know nothing of the game.  But, because of their agreeable personalities, and perhaps by speaking about hockey in jest or otherwise, they are actually well received.  

It's the know-it-all, the non-humble type who in actuality knows nothing, whom draws our (hockey fans) ire.  They're indeed going to get criticized from time to time for not incorporating more hockey into the show.   This is a metropolitan area with 3 freaking professional hockey teams.  What did they expect?   

But, when they do drop the puck, it just comes off as simple, and uninformed.  It's shameful, really.   At the same time, I can see their agitation with fans wanting it both ways.  Nevertheless, what irks fans is when talkies are so out of their element, yet try to portray themselves as authorities.  It's insulting.  THAT's the reason why fans get upset when their talk focuses on hockey.  In this town, not many can pull it off.

The reason the Rangers are down 3-1 in this series to the Capitals has nothing to do with Henrik Lundqvist's goal tending.  With that kind of mindless thinking, we might as well blame him for not being Canadian as well.

With regards to Game IV, the Rangers made two huge mistakes, and Washington capitalized.   Turnovers by Chris Kreider and Ryan McDonagh twice put Henrik Lundqvist in bad situations, and made 20-year old Andre Burakovsky look like Brett Hull.   Turnovers are part of the game, but each of these were of the inexcusable kind.  In the playoffs, the price to be paid for such misplay is extremely costly.

Then, there are matters of crowd control and Capital confusion.  The Rangers have consistently allowed the Capitals to create disruptive traffic in front of Henrik all series, while they themselves have not done the same in front of Braden Holtby.  To Holtby's credit, he has made his share of brilliant saves.  Look no further than his huge save against Carl Hagelin's penalty shot.  Otherwise, the Capitals are sacrificing their bodies and blocking shots, and have effectively pushed everything to the outside where Holtby has been able to get clear, and unobstructed views of the puck.

In front of Holtby, the Capitals have what the Pittsburgh Penguins did not - Brooks Orpik and Matt Niskenen - two veteran defensemen and longtime teammates, extremely familiar with the Rangers.

Then, once one considers that Alex Ovechkin and Niklas Backstrom have been relatively quiet this series, one is forced to recognize the considerable affect Coach Barry Trotz's system has had on these new and improved Capitals.

In 11 games this post-season, the Caps have scored 23 goals, for a 2.09 per game average.  As noted many times previously, the Rangers averaged 2.2 goals in 12 games during John Tortorella's final playoff run in 2013.  These Rangers are now averaging 1.77 goals after 9 games played.  This was the NHL's 3rd top rated offense during the regular season.

Lundqvist is making big saves as well.  At 19:00 of the 3rd period, Henrik made an otherworldly save which prevented the Capitals from driving another stake through their hearts.  

The Rangers limited scoring this series has come down the middle, a la Derick Brassard's opening goal in Game IV, or Hagelin's breakaway goal, or Kreider's rebound goal, etc.  Tex's Rangers better start crashing the net with purposeful haste then, or have their President's Trophy season crash and burn in disappointment.

That hasn't happened to the Rangers since 1992, but for Alain Vigneault, dare I saw it's becoming old hat.

If anything, the Rangers underlying problem was displayed with just over 2:00 minutes left in the game.  The Rangers dumped the puck deep into Washington's zone.  The first Capital defenseman to catch up with the play easily knocked the Rangers off the puck, and skated back up ice in transition with haste.  That's been going on throughout the playoffs.  Moreover, the Capitals forecheck in the closing minutes prevented Coach Vigneault from pulling Lundqvist for an extra skater in a timely manner.  And once on the ice, the Rangers couldn't even keep the zone.

But, I suppose the Rangers lack of post-season scoring is Henrik's fault because he isn't pitching shutouts.  All I know is, you can't win games 0-0; someone has to score first, and, or, last.  But, score they must.

Derick Brassard's performance should be putting the Rangers over the top.  Instead, his teammates are burdening him with an increasingly heavy load.


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