First an issue that needs to be brought into the light and then some thoughts on last night’s game against Atlanta.
Stop me if this scenario seems familiar: Opposing team dumps the puck into the Rangers zone. Lundqvist drifts behind his net. Gathers the puck. Fires it medium-strength up the boards, no more than mid-board level. Puck is stopped by opposing player. Results in sustained pressure while the Rangers scramble to set their defense. Scoring chances ensue.
I respect Henrik for wanting to get better and contribute to the offense. But PLEASE STOP!!! It only hurts the team. Henrik Lundqvist should NEVER handle the puck. He needs to be banned by the coaching staff. He is a world-class goaltender with OHL-level (at best) puck-handling skills.
As for the game, I’m going to put it in the category of a bad loss. Mainly for two reasons: taking way too many needless penalties and poor transition defense– it was odd-man rush against piled atop odd-man rush against. I won’t even rail on them for the faceoffs. While others need to pick up slack, it is hard to be good on draws when your top two centermen are out.
I generally like how the Rangers are transitioning into an offensive/attack system. It should bold way for years to come (especially if Hartford teaches the same system so that players called up don’t have a learning curve). But until they figure out how to play defense in this system they are going to lose many more games than they win. And wait to we play Pittsburgh, Washington, Detroit, etc. Teams that can attack AND play defense. Atlanta was horrible defensively until they shut it down in the third period, and we still got out-chanced. Not good.