On Lundqvist's Rough Nights the Rangers Can't Win

New York Hockey DailyContributor IMarch 20, 2010

NEW YORK - MARCH 18:  David Backes #42 of the St. Louis Blues watches his shot pass Henrik Lundqvist #30 of the New York Rangers and hit the cross bar at Madison Square Garden on March 18, 2010 in New York City.  (Photo by Nick Laham/Getty Images)
Nick Laham/Getty Images

It’s true that the really good teams in the NHL have big star power, but despite stars like Marian Gaborik and Henrik Lundqvist the Rangers have been mediocre all season long.

That’s because good teams find ways to win and get contributions from many different areas. The Rangers have the second worst offense in the Atlantic Division (only the Panthers are worse) despite a dominating 37 goal performance from Gaborik this year.

The problem is that 21 of Gaborik’s 37 goals came in the first two months of the season, and the team has found no other way to get consistent secondary scoring. After Gaborik they don’t have a single other player with at least 20 goals scored, including their captain, Chris Drury , who has only managed 11 goals so far this season.

The Rangers lack of scoring has forced them to lean heavily on Lundqvist, to the detriment of the team. Now that they are in the final stretch of the season he looks more gassed then ever.

He’s played in 14 of the last 15 games, 61 out of 71 overall, and he started in the Olympics to top it off. No wonder he looked terrible out there against St. Louis the other night.

Larry Brooks had a terrible stat from the other night. The Rangers are 1-16-2 in games where Lundqvist allows at least four goals. Any team is going to have a hard time putting up a winning record if their goalie is having an off night, but to only manage four out of a possible 38 points is pathetic.

Unfortunately, there is no easy fix for this problem during the offseason. Since no teams really dominate when their goalie is giving up four a night, the best way to lessen the effect of that record is to cut down the number of times it happens.

The only way to really do that is to improve the defense, which has been pretty terrible at points this season. If the Rangers could make a significant and positive change at D than the number of games Lundqvist falls on his face during will drop, but it would still keep the pressure on him to play at least 80 percent of the time.

That’s why this is no easy problem to fix. Not only would the Rangers need to increase their defense, but their offense needs to be improved to keep the pressure off The King. I

f the Rangers could rack up four goals a night for themselves more regularly they wouldn’t need to start Lundqvist as often, and the chances are likely that his overall game, particularly his consistency, will improve.

So, this offseason the Rangers are going to be focused on two areas the most: adding more offense and adding impact defenders. The problem is that almost every other team in the league is going to be looking for the same thing.

This could be a slow fix.

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