Prior to last season, it could be said that the New York Rangers were a solid defensive hockey club.
They were responsible in their own end, they got a lot of saves from their goaltenders, they blocked a lot of shots, and they were able to get the puck out of the zone very quickly. Basically put, they knew how to keep the puck out of their net.
That all changed last season. The team’s defense was very porous, young, made a lot of mistakes, and did not get the greatest goaltending.
It appears that the club is writing the same script this season. As of this writing the Blueshirts are 25th in the league in goals allowed.
On average, this team is giving up between three and four goals a game, which certainly is not going to help them win hockey games. Furthermore, they are currently 26th in the league in shots allowed per game as they have given up an average of about 33 shots per game.
Those statistics are the two main reasons why this team is not in a playoff spot and will more than likely miss the postseason dance for the second straight season. With the team currently 10 points out of the second wild card spot in the Eastern Conference, it is hard to see the team improving in any way.
One reason why this team is struggling defensively is because a few of their guys are young and inexperienced. Both Neal Pionk and Tony DeAngelo are the team’s youngest defensemen as both are 23-years-old.
When you have two young kids on defense, mistakes are bound to made. Both Pionk and DeAngelo are prone to turnovers, getting caught out of position, and not keeping their respective games simple.
There is no doubt that these guys have a lot of talent and potential to be solid defensemen in this league for a very long time. They are both great skaters, can make plays with the puck, and both have great shots. As they mature, they should be able to put all of these things together to form two good defensemen.
With that said, however, because the team’s defense is young, both of their netminders have taking a beating this season. Both the “King” Henrik Lundqvist and backup goaltender Alexandar Georgiev face a lot of shots on a nightly basis and a lot of those are high-quality scoring chances.
As a result, both of their statistics are tough to look at. Lundqvist is 17-16-9 with a 3.04 goals-against average and a .907 save percentage.
These are not the kind of numbers we are used to seeing from Lundqvist, but considering the fact that he is getting older and the kind of team he is playing behind, these numbers are actually quite understandable. The team’s fans should not be looking down on Lundqvist for the statistics that he has posted this season.
Georgiev’s numbers also do not look great. He is currently 10-10-1 with a 3.18 goals-against average, a .902 save percentage, and one shutout.
It’s been a long season for both the team’s defensemen and goaltending. Hopefully, the rest of the season will not be as bad and that everyone can get prepared for next season.
*Photo: New York Post