Saturday, November 27, 2010

Rangers Goalies: Why Lundqvist Must Continue To Play; Biron Can Wait

Coming off last night’s game the topic that first came to my mind this morning more than the way they played or  how good Henrik was in net was who would get the start against the Predators.  With the Rangers having been so focused on making sure to get Biron some work I believe he was probably scheduled to go tonight and that is not a bad thing, but if that was the schedule they need to make a change on it.  The biggest thing for the Rangers hopes this season and any season is the play of Henrik Lundqvist without question as he is their franchise guy.  In that you have your franchise player who has been up and down for the first 24 games of the year even to the point where his technique and his confidence were off.  Last night he comes out and I believe plays his best game of the year overall.

The reason that I say last night was Henrik’s best performance of the season was not the shutout as he has three of those already or the 40 saves, but the way in which he went about making it.  The performance was his best in the sense of his positioning, rebound control and stance.  One of the biggest problems for Lundqvist over the down games of the season has been his balance and how he has been going down too early getting beat with deflections in the upper part of the net.  Last night he stayed tall very well covering more of the net and thus being a wall that could not be penetrated.  I think if you are the Rangers you must build on that part of the performance more than the numbers and send him back out there tonight to repeat it and make it become second nature again.  To have that performance and then two days off to face the Penguins might dissipate some of what got Henrik back to where he was last night.  He played a phenomenal game against Pittsburgh the last time out, but you want him to be as confident not only in  making saves as possible heading into a matchup like that but as technically sound as possible.

Another reason that I would put Henrik in other being hot, building his confidence and cementing his technique is that this club needs to learn how to play harder for him defensively.  Even in last night’s performance against a less talented offensive club they gave up way too many chances for Henrik to bail them out and they need to learn to bring the same focus defensively with Hank in the net as they do for Marty Biron.  If I was making the decisions I would play Henrik tonight, Monday night against the Pens and then give Biron some work in one of the games against the Islanders.  Biron knows the role of the backup and has been there before so he can wait to get some work and he will be fine, Henrik getting right is just more important.

How would you handle the goalies over the next stretch?