Hi fellow Blueshirts fans,
Today, I would like to address something that has caught my attention and has given me cause for some concern. No, I'm not talking about the lack of goal scoring, or the adjustment period needed for the new coach, I'm talking about something I thought I would never have to think about with this team; our Defense and Goaltending has looked really poor through the preseason and season opener. Yeah, I know it has only been one regular season game, but the preseason was horrendous. I mean what, we allowed like 26 goals over the last seven games. That is alarming. I really think it isn't the fault of the Defensive corps though.
I know you guys will bash me for what I am going to say here but firstly, I would like to point out that Henrik Lundqvist is still, in my mind, the best goalie in the world and I would never doubt his elite ability and the stats which prove his effectiveness. He has struggled out of the gate though; perhaps more than at any other point in his career. I have been a fan since I could consciously remember and since Hank joined the team, I have not seen him have this bad of a stretch of games. I think it comes down to a variety of different factors:
Henrik Lundqvist was and still is the epitome of unorthodox butterfly. No, he isn't Hasek weird, but his butterfly is strikingly different from most butterflies in the league and it is one of the keys to his success. He plays a very low and wide game and it has made him extremely efficient down low and very quick with his pads. It was working well for him and then, last year, he started making a conscious effort to get taller and narrower in the crease which has certainly contributed to the odd goal that he normally wouldn't have allowed, but it didn't impact his game too much. This year though, coupled with the smaller pads, which I will touch on shortly, he looks very narrow and to tall from the ice. His reaction speed is slowed down because of the fact that his pads take a split second longer to hit the ice leading to more time for pucks to slip by. It is beyond me why he would want to change something that worked for him for so long.
Has anyone else noticed that the majority of the goals Hank has let in so far have gone in with him way out of position or like 5 feet out of the net. Sure, players have been interfering with him, but he has been so far out of the crease at times that he looks like he is trying to copy Marty Brodeur. When he played deep in his crease, he had more time to react. Farther out, he has to count on instinct and cutting down angles. The problem is this leads to passing plays near the net which throw him out of position and jeopardize his ability to get to the puck.
3. Smaller pads
Yeah, I know this is a bad excuse for a goalie but still, pad size plays an important role in the goalie's comfort and coverage. Smaller pads=less coverage=conscious effort to cover more=slowed reaction time=more goals. Its simple. Goalies need to react, not think about reacting, otherwise that extra moment is where the puck goes past them. I am pretty upset with the league about this because for a lot of goalies, this will be a tougher adjustment than usual.
These are my thoughts on why the Rangers have been allowing so many goals. I don't blame Henrik or the defense, but I feel the factors explained above have a lot to do with the sudden drop off in goaltending performance. Please don't take this the wrong way, Henrik Lundqvist is my favorite goalie to watch because of how dynamic he is, but I personally feel that he has changed his game for the worse.
Feel free to comment and I would be glad to hear your points of view and opinions.