No matter the level of culpability Alain Vigneault is responsible for, New York Rangers’ Henrik Lundqvist must stop Kyle Turris in overtime.
Marc Staal is an issue. Nick Holden scares fans to death when he’s playing defense in his own zone. Certain forwards such as J.T. Miller and Kevin Hayes haven’t really shown up during the Stanley Cup Playoffs, accounting for zero total goals thus far.
Then there’s Alain Vigneault. Yes, that man, the New York Rangers head coach who the fans love to hate so very much. AV deserves much blame for how this series has turned out up to this point. Not only did he fail to allow burgeoning stud Brady Skjei to play late in Game 2 (the last Rangers late-game collapse), he did the same in Game 5.
Remarkably, Skjei didn’t see the ice for the final five minutes of regulation.
Even still, AV isn’t the lone culprit.
Dan Girardi was completely wiped out of the play thanks to the shot block that miraculously came back to Turris. Ryan McDonagh was then forced to make a difficult decision. He could of either forced Turris’s hand a little bit by attacking him or did what he did in making sure Lundqvist was able to take Turris one-on-one, mano-y-mano.
As per usual, McDonagh allowed The King to take the Ottawa Senators sharpshooter one-one-one.
Lundqvist failed miserably.
— NHL (@NHL) May 6, 2017
Turris, who tallied 27 goals during the regular campaign, Threw a softie at Hank that found its way under his left pad.
For a man who so desperately wants to engrave his name and touch that Stanley Cup, a goal like this during the most pivotal moment of the game simply cannot happen. Instead, Lundqvist needs to make the legendary stop and say, “Alright boys, I have your back so go out and win the game.” He needs to make AV’s decisions and the defense play as irrelevant as humanly possible.
For those who are used to the MSG Network broadcast, former Ranger backup goalie to Lundqvist and MSG analyst Steve Valiquette, always sings the praises of the great 30. He’s always ripping off mind-blowing stats about not only the current game of hockey, but Lundqvist’s statistical output.
When Lundqvist is faced in a one-on-one situation with a clean look, his percentage of making the stop is top-notch.
[graphiq id=”48Z50FCyUHH” title=”Henrik Lundqvist” width=”500″ height=”810″ url=”https://w.graphiq.com/w/48Z50FCyUHH” ]
This Turris goal was a clean one-on-one look yet very few will get on Hank.
Part of the reason any of the 16 hockey clubs can stun the world and earn a championship is because the goalie can alter much of the action. Like a starting pitcher in baseball, the goalie position becomes that wild card.
Since 2006, Lundqvist and Rangers winning have been synonymous with one another. The Rangers turnaround has directly correlated with the back of Lundqvist’s card. And while the turnaround could be mainly attributed with the lockout, forcing Glen Sather to build from within, fans adore No. 30 due to Lundqvist’s stature.
“The Lundqvist Era” of Rangers hockey is a real thing.
Unfortunately, this era too closely resembles another great New York City era that didn’t result in a championship: the Patrick Ewing New York Knicks. From an individual standpoint, many can call it the “Derek Jeter effect.” Jeter is beloved as the cog in the New York Yankees dynasty and impressive nearly two decades of work.
In 12 seasons with New York, Lundqvist has only missed the playoffs once.
Under the same breath, he still doesn’t have a Cup and it’s not simply a matter of fault in relation to everybody around him.
He does, indeed, bail out the Rangers at times. Against the Montreal Canadiens, he stood on his head for the most part. In this series, he’s also shown legendary flashes.
But when it team needs it the most — as was the case in overtime on Saturday — Lundqvist sometimes doesn’t come through.
He simply hasn’t been able to every put together a full playoff string of legendary goaltening play. One night he’ll be tremendous. Another night he’ll be good. Then the next night he may be average to below average.
On Saturday, he was good. He played wonderfully for the most part.
The problem is “the most part” isn’t good enough unless your team is flawless around you, and in almost every case for every goalie, that’s never the case.
If Henrik Lundqvist wants the cup, he needs to stand on his head seven out of seven nights, not five out of seven. Sometimes, the big stop in overtime is much more important than two sparkling saves in regulation.
You can blame Vigneault and Staal all you want if it makes you feel better, but if you’d like to be fair, you must throw Lundqvist into the blame game as well.
If he wants that Cup, he needs to be legendary on a consistent basis. From what we’ve seen, he’s just not “legendary” material. He’s very very good, just not immortal.