Road trip is chance for Rangers to get their goalies right
Regarding the Rangers, who have had five homestands of three games or more this season and did not post a winning record in any of them, this latest stretch at the Garden ending 1-3 with Saturday’s lead balloon of a 6-4 defeat to the Devils.
1. So next up, a three-game trip to Dallas, Colorado and Arizona, with a back-to-back to kick it off against the Stars on Tuesday and the Avalanche on Wednesday. That’s the last back-to-back on the schedule until Games 80 and 81 against the Flyers and in Pittsburgh on April 1 and 2, respectively.
That will allow David Quinn to establish a goaltending rotation without regard to fatigue, not that any of the three goaltenders should be tired. Here is an oddity: Igor Shesterkin, Alexandar Georgiev and Henrik Lundqvist each allowed five goals in his last start — Shesterkin on Saturday, Georgiev in Thursday’s 6-5 overtime victory over the Caps, and Lundqvist in the March 1, 5-3 defeat to the Flyers.
And unless Saturday represented more than a blip for Shesterkin, who admitted to being rusty following his two-week layoff in the aftermath of the Feb. 23 car crash in which he suffered a non-displaced broken rib, then he is expected to get the overwhelming share of starts the rest of the way.
Shesterkin was more than rusty. He seemed to lose composure at times, allowing goals 52 seconds apart early in the second period and then 25 seconds apart late. It happens. Saturday represented the 11th start of the 24-year-old Russian’s career. Lundqvist allowed five goals in a game for the first time in the 12th start of his career, Nov. 17, 2005 in a 5-1 defeat at Carolina. Things seem to have worked out fine for him.
2. The warm and loud reception that Lundqvist received from the Garden crowd when he led the team onto the ice for the third period before his name was announced over the PA system was welcome, appropriate and almost a relief in the wake of the mocking he received during the loss to the Flyers.
I get paid to watch the games and you pay for the pleasure. I understand that. But the customer is not always right. And the customers who mock or boo Lundqvist are wrong.
There is no elaboration necessary.
3. Maybe this should be whispered so as not to disturb the Hart Trophy campaign being waged on social media on behalf of Artemi Panarin, but Bread’s goal-scoring touch has been unleavened at the wrong time, No. 10 going six straight without a goal. That represents the longest drought of the year for Panarin, who has scored only five goals in the past 19 matches.
Keep this in mind: Panarin, who has scored 32 goals, had never gotten more than 31 before this. He was not advertised as a scorer, but more as a dispatcher who elevates the play of his linemates. He has been all that and more. He is a legit Hart contender.
But the goal-scoring? Panarin has gotten only 11 shots on net during this stretch, fewer than three per. He’d rung up a 16.1 shooting percentage through his first 61 matches while getting an average of almost three shots a game.
4. Who do you have at the moment as the NHL’s top Swede: Mika Zibanejad, Victor Hedman, Elias Pettersson, William Nylander or Lias Andersson?
Just seeing if you were paying attention.
5. K’Andre Miller’s season ended Saturday in conjunction with Wisconsin’s elimination by Ohio State from the first round of the Big 10 Tournament.
If the 20-year-old sophomore defenseman, selected 22nd overall in the first round by the Blueshirts in 2018, opts to turn pro sooner rather than later, general manager Jeff Gorton would almost certainly look to get the 6-foot-4 Miller into AHL Hartford on a PTO as opposed to burning the first year of an entry-level deal.
6. Gorton and assistant GM Chris Drury both had their contracts extended, as first reported Saturday night by Elliotte Friedman of “Hockey Night in Canada.” This effectively keeps Drury off the market as a potential GM candidate around the league at least through this summer, while Gorton’s extension represented a slam-dunk decision from president John Davidson.
7. Tony DeAngelo’s goal at 19:17 of the third period on Saturday that made the score 6-4 may have seemed rather meaningless, but there is no such thing as a meaningless point to No. 77 if he gets to salary arbitration.
What do you think each point might be worth now in an arbitrator’s straight calculation — $100,000, maybe?
DeAngelo, who was in essence told to wait his turn last summer before reluctantly signing a one-year contract for $925,000, is tied for third among NHL defensemen with 15 goal$ and is fourth with 53 point$.
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