The other day Henrik Lundqvist won the Ranger’s team MVP award , but you don’t need an award to tell you just how valuable he is to this Rangers team. All you had to do was to watch tonight’s 2-1 loss to the Philadelphia Flyers.
Watching tonight’s game the Rangers were pathetic offensively, but still held their to the very last second thanks to the heroics of their goalie Lundqvist. Is there a better metaphor for this entire season? This is a Rangers team that, outside of Marian Gaborik, lacked any consistent offensive power. Still, they held in there playing meaningful hockey until the very last game of the season.
Lately the Rangers have been leaning on Lundqvist more than ever. He’s played in 16 games in a row and 24 out of 25 overall since the start of February. But what choice did they have? Alex Auld is not exactly a bad goalie, but the difference between his and Lundqvist is the difference between playing until the final day and irrelevancy.
So they did what they had to, but in the end head coach John Tortorella should have realized what all of that would have meant to Lundqvist. All of that and then three periods today and overtime tonight and Lundqvist just couldn’t handle any more.
When Lundqvist was asked if he felt good going into the shootout, The King responded: “Not really. I was dead tired.”
Which brings me to my point. The Rangers have leaned heavily on him all season, which is fine because it was necessary, but Tortorella coached and the Rangers played overtime like they were trying to force a shootout.
That passive style of offense during OT turned out to be the death knell of the Rangers as a clearly gassed Lundqvist missed a goal by Daniel Briere on a move we’ve seen him stop countless times before.
As it turned out using Lundqvist 16 games in a row and 24 out of 25 including 65 minutes of hockey today and 46 shots against kind of tired him out. That’s not exactly the best time to expect your goalie to be able to save you in a shootout. Obviously there was no other option but to use Hank, but they didn’t need to coach so it was basically all on him.
The offense in overtime needed to come out aggressive and that’s now what we saw happen. That’s where the Rangers lost this game, not in the shootout.
Lundqvist was gassed, but Tortorella still kept hitting the trottle, unfortunately there was no gas left in the tank this year.