By Eric Bancker
There are not many nights where the Rangers lose and you can point the finger at goaltender Henrik Lundqvist but last night Lundqvist played horribly in a game that the Rangers desperately needed.
The Blues had 16 shots against King Henrik. Lundqvist only managed to save 12 of the 16 shots as the Rangers fell 4-4-2 in their last 10 games. 3 of the 4 goals he surrendered were all shots he should have stopped.
Heres a breakdown of the four goals
1. Just 1:10 of the 1st period Brad Boyes was able to fire a shot over top of Lundqvist's glove hand to give the Blues the early 1-0 lead. This goal was setup by the Ranger inability to get the puck out of their own zone. It happens all to often and Lundqvist was beaten on a shot that he should have stopped.
2. 2:21 into the 2nd period the Rangers decided to team up to score a goal on themselves cause hey, that's what teamwork is all about. It all started in the Blues zone when Sean Avery tried to send a pass to captain Chris Drury out in front of the Blues net. It was immediately broken up and the Blues came into the Rangers end. But the Rangers weren't done turning the puck over yet. Brad Boyes fell down and the puck came to Drury, who instead of turning around and firing the puck out of the zone, decided to backhand the puck out without even looking. Unfortunately for Drury the puck squirted right out to Mike Weaver who fired a slapshot past Lundqvist. Looking at the goal it was almost like Drury set Weaver up for a one timer. There really was no one screening Lundqvist and the puck went by him and the Blues tied the game. Mike Weaver scored only the 4th goal of his career in his 327th career game in the NHL, so a guy who averages a goal every 81.75 games (let me remind you that there are 82 games in a NHL season) was able to score against the Rangers. I'm starting to think that the Rangers just aren't supposed to win.
3. 5:45 into the 2nd period the worst goal of the game was scored when defenseman Erik Johnson went end-to-end, came down the right wing and fired a weak shot from a bad angle and it somehow found its way through Lundqvist pads and gave the Blues a 3-2 lead. This was without a doubt one of the worst goals I've ever seen Lundqvist give up. I would also say it was the worst goal of the night but that belongs to Radim Vrbata of the Pheonix Coyotes.
4. 8:24 into the 3rd period the Blues were able to put the Rangers away when T.J Oshie sent a centering pass to Paul Kariya to give the Blues a 4-3 lead. This goal falls on Ryan Callahan's shoulders as he was just out muscled by Kariya and it let Kariya get to the front of the net and stuff home the pass.
Lundqvist goaltending wasn't even the thing that disgusted me the most about last nights game. No, it was Wade Redden. Ok, he had 2 points last night, finally. He had a good game, so why am I picking on him? Well because Wade Redden only collected his 2nd goal of the season and currently only has 14 points...this is a guy who makes $6.5 million a year. The two years that Redden has been in a Ranger jersey, he has played 145 games, tallied 40 points (5 goals 35 assists) and he has made $13 million in those 2 years. Only 4 more years Ranger fans!
The Rangers play again on Sunday on the NBC Game of the Week against the rival Boston Bruins. The Rangers must win this game. They are chasing the Bruins, who are in 8th place in the East. The Rangers missed their chance last night to gain ground on Boston. If the Rangers lose Sunday, they will miss the playoffs because they are already playing below average hockey and a loss will put them 5 points behind Boston. In all honesty if Lundqvist wasn't so good against Boston, 13-3-2 with a 1.36 goals against average, I would start Alex Auld on Sunday. Lundqvist has been very shaky lately and I think it has to do with being fatigued at this point. But with his track record against the Bruins expect him to be in net with the Rangers playoff chances resting on his shoulders this Sunday.