Talking about the Rangers, unless I decide to talk about something else

Posts tagged ‘Henrik F Lundqvist’

THE BOYS ARE BACK

HOCKEY BACK HOCKEY BACK. I, for one, am excited. The title of this post references both me arbitrarily ending my blogging hiatus AND far and away my favorite dumb internet story of the past year. I’ll try to not flake out on you this year (/cuts to shot of all my exes nodding sarcastically)!

As you’re well aware, our boys started the 2015-2016 regular season with a quality 3-2 win over the defending champion Chicago Blackhawks. The game was fast, players showed off a TON of skill, Corey Crawford’s pads looked stupid as shit, and god hockey I missed you so don’t ever leave me again. Also, it’s just awesome seeing Zuccarello out there playing again after that horrifying injury last spring. A lot of guys had rough injuries last spring, but only Zucc fractured his skull and, I can’t stress this enough, WAS PHYSICALLY UNABLE TO SPEAK UNTIL UNDERGOING REHAB. Welcome back, you crafty Norwegian hobbit.

ANWAY – Drawing conclusions from a single game is dumb, and because this is my blog that’s exactly what’s about to happen. Buckle up.

1. SPEED SPEED SPEED

While Carl Hagelin and his glorious, glorious hair may have gone west, the Rangers seemed to be much faster as a team. Marty St. Louis, God love him, had lost more than a few steps by the end of last season. Nash-Brassard-Zuccarello didn’t generate much but skated incredibly well. Kreider is the only burner on his line with Stepan and Hayes, but on more than a few occasions his straight-line speed created scoring chances single-handedly. The 3rd and 4th lines were buzzing around the puck in every zone all night long. Take in to account that Emerson Etem, a major burner in his own right, didn’t even dress last night and it’s hard not to feel encouraged by what the team displayed. Speed is probably the hardest thing in hockey to counter when it’s utilized properly, and if the Rangers stay healthy it looks like they’ll have that advantage against most teams all season.

2. BREAKING THE GLASS CEILING (I MAY INJURE MY BACK ATTEMPTING TO BLOW MYSELF FOR THIS ONE)

When the Rangers made the Stanley Cup 2 seasons ago (I don’t remember what happened and no I don’t want to talk about it), their biggest strength was the ability to roll 4 effective lines every night. Brian Boyle made Dominic Moore a luxury, and having a roster where any line is capable of stepping up and scoring brought the team within a few hit posts of raising the Cup (I SAID I DON’T WANT TO TALK ABOUT IT). Last year, not so much.

Tanner Glass can play NHL hockey on a team that’s top-heavy in terms of talent (think this year’s Penguins) because he can usually take a shift without any disasters occurring. If you have a roster like the Rangers do, depth matters even more because the team doesn’t have the same kind of high-end scorers that a lot of other contending teams have. The season finished last year with Dominic Moore taking shifts as a third line center (bad) and Tanner Glass playing over 10 minutes a night (BAD).

Moore is an overqualified 4th liner, which makes him perfect in the role he played last night. Same goes for Jarrett Stoll. JT Miller was on the 2nd line during last year’s playoffs, and last night he was wreaking havoc all over the ice as a 3rd liner. Victor Stalberg looks like a bigger, faster, meaner version of 2013’s Benny Pouliot. Oscar Lindberg scored as the 3rd line center, and the 4th line generated at least 2 high-quality scoring chances I can remember offhand while playing physically every shift sure the Hawks’ defensemen didn’t get a chance to catch their breath.

If Glass does crack the line-up anytime soon, it will only be due to injuries. The team lost some quality players last off-season, but the front office managed to re-tool so well (and on the cheap!) that it’s much stronger top-to-bottom than it ever was last season.

3. HENRIK IS GOOD

pretty good

pretty good

He is #good at #hockey. #Content over.

God damn, I am excited to have this team back. Let’s enjoy the season, y’all. LGR.

A Referendum Before the Game at MSG

Finally, the Rangers are getting back to playing at home. Actually that’s not a good thing, they were like 10 games under .500 at home last year. And the year before. But it’s a new year! Optimism! Positive mental attitude!

Not really. I do think that we won’t know what this team is capable of until they get a few weeks at home to get settled and probably get about 14 or 15 games into the season. Having said that, there definitely are still a few lessons fans can take from the first 7 games.

1. Not an ideal start, but not worth panicking: Again, 7 games on the road to begin the year. That’s starting with a couple in Europe (not even including pre-season), which all the players say isn’t an excuse to be out of rhythm, but frankly it totally is. Do not listen to anything a hockey player says in an interview ever. They have like 4 answers total and they’re all “Work hard play hard play our game great teammates class organization.”

2. Henrik Lundqvist is a God, We Must Praise Him: Self-explanatory. He is crazy. All the goalies in the league are athletically pretty much equal. Some guys are a bit bigger or have longer legs, and guys have different styles. What makes top-tier goalies elite is an indescribably high level of focus. There’s a reason that athletes talk about being in “the zone”: it’s the highest level of focus and mental sharpness combined with all of their athletic cylinders running at full efficiency. Lundqvist is mind-boggling to watch because he seems to be in that zone all the times. He’s made saves every game that are just not normal. The kick save on Bobby Ryan. The blocker save off a rebound in Calgary. The entire Vancouver game. As fans, we’re just lucky to be able to witness it every year.

3. The D is Going to be Even Better than Last Year: They’re giving solid minutes basically every game to 2 guys who are just not good (Eminger, who has moments but is mostly Steve Eminger; Woywitka, who was picked up off the scrap heap and looks like it). Del Zotto isn’t a liability so far and he’s only going to improve. Erixon is visibly improving game by game, he plays smart, and the coaches are obviously beginning to trust him more. Girardi is a goddamn rock and McDonagh has been great every game (except Calgary; he scored the OT GWG, but he tried to do too much all game and ended up making a ton of mistakes). Staal is going to make it back eventually and be one of the league’s top shut-down defensemen, and Sauer’s reportedly back for Toronto (injuries were a problem for him as a prospect and badly slowed down his development). That is going to be one of the best defensive corps in the league from 1-6 without question, and hopefully allow for the secondary forwards to make more of a scoring push.

4. Marian F Gaborik: Oh man, does he look good so far. I suppose that happens when you’re a faster skater and better shooter than everyone on the ice. He looks even better than he did in his first year in New York, and hopefully he keeps it up.

5. Bad News: Philly looks absurdly good so far, and Pittsburgh keeps rolling without 2 of the best forwards in the world. This is upsetting. The Rangers play them a total of 12 times this year. That is not good. The Islanders aren’t a night off this year, and Jersey has Parise back and he is very good at hockey. Every division game is going to be really tough, and that’s the only reason the slow start makes me nervous about later in the year.

6. Random Thoughts:
I’ve been watching “Damages” on Netflix. That show’s pretty good. I must propose to Rose Byrne.

Alex Burmistrov and Zach Bogosian (Did I spell those right? I doubt it) are going to be really fun to watch for the rest of their careers. Burmistrov looks like Semin Jr. and Bogosian seems to have a 495 mile an hour slapper.

I can’t believe the Oilers are even pretending to consider thinking about sending Nugent-Hopkins down. That would cause a riot amongst the 875 residents of Edmonton. I did not do any formal research about Edmonton’s population.

Does anyone own a website that tracks all official odds for when Lindsay Lohan finally does hardcore porn?

A night of filling out spreadsheets is a really strange contrast with being the only person on a subway car with 3 other dudes break dancing.

I will be attending the game tomorrow. Really, really excited for the first time they announce Cally as the new captain. Hopefully Torts does the right thing and puts him out for the first shift so the crowd can acknowledge him.

I’ve made it through two blog posts without a single penis joke. This is the most impressive achievement of my life.

ANYWAY, that’s all for now. Let’s see if McD and Girardi can handle Phil Kessel, and hopefully the Artie-Cally-Dubi line can feed off the energy from the crowd and get some offense going. Also a win would be nice. Let’s go Rangers, and I can’t wait for the puck to drop at the Garden 2.0-kind-of.

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