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No Crown Fit For This King thumbnail

No Crown Fit For This King

November 27, 2009   ·     ·   Jump to comments

Okay. So, its not the Rangers night. That much was obvious early with the Lightning scoring twice and continuing to dominate a game thats now 4-zip. Too much Steven Stamkos and Marty St. Louis. Andrej Meszaros also made a great defensive play to deny Marian Gaborik a breakaway. And no. That wasnt a penalty.

If Artem Anisimov had bad luck on the high stick which Victor Hedman held that led to a power play goal from Steve Downie, then that wasnt the case with Ales Kotalik, whose undisciplined minor running into Mike Smith behind the net negated a Ranger PP, which of course the Bolts scored on when Kurtis Foster picked high glove on Henrik Lundqvist. That it came off a one-timer from 40 feet unscreened was the latest glaring example of why our overrated goalie isnt elite. On a setup he had plenty of time to get set for, instead there was the King looking more Queen on all fours, exposing the glaring weakness. Had he been more square, it wouldve been an easy glove save.

Sadly, in Year 5, Henrik hasnt made any adjustment. In fact, he has gotten worse. He stinks on breakaways. Once a strength, he plays way too passively back in his net, allowing attacking shooters too much daylight. Anyone can see whats wrong. But why cant our GQ-sessed netminder? It used to be that he was more aggressive taking away the angles. Part of that might be due to goalie coach Benoit Allaire, who might be protecting his weakness. However, doesnt Lundqvist have a say or is he just content as being a good goalie who has gotten overexposed under the bright lights? You have to begin to question whether he wants to really be the best. Has life become too cozy with supermodels and photo shoots more on the radar than stoning the opposition? As evidenced tonight, he hasnt helped the cause permitting two bad goals, including one which was entirely his fault because he didnt come out to play the puck. When does he ever help our D? I could care less if his stickhandling is ECHL caliber. You dont always leave your guys hanging. Exactly why the fourth Tampa goal happened. Another scrubs first which came off a bad rebound. Where are the big saves?

Granted. This isnt close to a championship roster but rather one in transition. Even if Gaborik lights it up with Vinny Prospal, what else is there? Theres not a ton of skill. Until Anisimov matures and Evgeny Grachev graduates the A, the Blueshirts dont possess many legit scorers. Ryan Callahan is stuck on four (snapped seven game drought) because he has no one passing him the puck. Brandon Dubinsky, who they miss, hasnt played to potential and it now seems they shouldve traded him when they had the chance. Especially if Derek Stepan, who is having another big night at Wisconsin, is as good as advertised.

So, what else is wrong with our forwards? Lets see. We went from a playable fourth line to none. Though Brian Boyle tries, he has nobody to play with. Out of the supporting cast, Chris Higgins and Sean Avery are working hardest along with Cally but all three must get on the score sheet through hard work. Ditto for captain Chris Drury, who looks a little better since returning. Anisimov is the most skilled young forward and we really believe he has better upside than Dubinsky. But the lanky Russians in his first year. So, there will continue to be peaks and valleys. His production (5-7-12 in 25 GP) hasnt been bad. Hes already a solid two-way pivot but has unlimited talent. Its why Tort must continue to give him lots of ice. As for Kotalik, hes a waste if hes not hitting the net via the man-advantage. He always takes bad penalties (mostly offensive zone) and is a liability at even strength though he has capability. After a good start, Enver Lisin has emulated the former No.81 Marcel Hossa. I just dont see why he deserves to play. Especially when P.A. Parenteaus better. They want to keep him in, stick him with Boyle.

The blueline has promise with MDZ and Matt Gilroy taking their lumps. We all know how good Del Zotto is but Gilroy is steadying. Its good at least that Bobby Sanguinetti, on for one goal against, is finally getting NHL experience. They need to try him on the point. Theres a reason he leads all AHL D in scoring. Not sure if Tinman returns tomorrow as hes day-to-day. So, maybe well see more of Sangs in a challenging home-and-home with the defending Cup champion Pens. Marc Staal is up and down but only 22 in Year 3 and Dan Girardi is pretty much the same. After a poor start, Girardis played better and had to cover for Staal, whos lost some of his edge. Dont forget. Hes up after the year. Do they re-sign him? At this point, I dont see why not. Our Ds not great to begin with. Unless the kids are finally ready, figure they bring him back. Hopefully, its reasonable. Theres no question Michal Rozsival has to go as hes just a shell of himself. Redden at least has improved. If we can move Rozy, great. They should just designate him and take the hit.

Which leaves us back to the goalie whos gotten the franchise out of the dumps. Four straight years, theyve gone to the playoffs and Lundqvist has been a huge part of that. Theyve made Round Two only twice. Though you couldnt blame him for what happened against a much more talented Cap team led by Ovechkin. They never wouldve been in winning position without Henrik, who elevated his play last Spring. So, whats wrong with him now? He got off to a great start and looked ready to challenge for his first Vezina. But again, the November slump has hit but he seems to have more weaknesses as weve alluded to. Even Stamkos 16th which was wide open in the slot wasnt great. It went low which is a Henrik strength.

Another area of concern is rebound control, which has gotten worse as the seasons gone on. The best goalies can put the puck in safe areas where they cant be buried. But there are far too many instances where he is allowing second and third chances. If he truly is to be the next goalie to lead this club back to the promised land a la Mike Richter, Lundqvist needs to take a good hard look in the mirror. Hes not coming close to delivering. Especially for his hefty salary.

In a year where the coach lauded him as the games best which would allow the team to play the high risk/reward style, its the goalie whos not producing. Time for that to change.

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