We are over the halfway mark on the 2016-2017 NHL season and the New York Rangers find themselves on a hot streak that was well necessary. The team has won six straight games and are 8-2-0 in their last 10. Things seem to be clocking, they’re not firing on all cylinders but they’re beating the teams they need to beat. A lot of praise goes to deservedly the offense, which has been keeping this squad afloat. Any Rangers fan will tell you that the defense needs to be addressed. Also Henrik Lundqvist seems to look as comfortable as ever right now, and the Rangers only go as far as “The King” can carry them.
All the offense in the world means nothing without a defense and a top notch goaltender between the pipes. The Rangers are putting up some of the best numbers they have in years averaging 3.39 goals per game. With guys like Michael Grabner leading the team in scoring which no one saw happening. All of the secondary scoring from guys like JT Miller, Derek Stepan, Chris Kreider and Kevin Hayes really takes off some pressure on the defense that Is pretty lack luster.
That’s when we get to Henrik Lundqvist he has been the glue keeping this defense together, the last line of defense. It was just a short while ago where articles were coming out stating “What’s wrong with Henrik Lundqvist” and how Lundqvist was “Struggling to carry the burden”
Henrik Lundqvist is 34 and can only do so much with what’s in front of him, literally. The defense aside from Ryan McDonagh and you could also make a case for Brady Skjei is not very good. Marc Stall and Nick Holden could be an okay third line pair and some would even argue for Kevin Klein as well. But if the Rangers are serious about making a push for the Stanley Cup a move is going to have to be made.
The Rangers are in a good position to make a move for a top defender too. Kevin Shattenkirk is probably the top prize going into the trade deadline that is rapidly approaching (March 1st). Shattenkirk is the name at the top of Rangers want list.
The deal is going to be hard to swallow but could workout great if pulled off correctly. As mentioned earlier, the Rangers are getting a lot of scoring from young talent and it’s going to cost one of those gems to get a big time defender like Shattenkirk. Derek Stepan who is in the prime of his career is a name that has been thrown around. It would hurt, since he has come up with this team, being drafted by them in 2008. Kevin Hayes has looked great this year after cutting some weight and the results have shown as he is having a career year.
The St. Louis Blues have teased with the idea of a sign and trade with other teams inquiring about Shattenkirk, that definitely will peak the interests of buyers.
If the Rangers were to add another defenseman with the credentials of Kevin Shattenkirk, I think the Blue Shirts can make another run for Henrik Lundqvist. The man has done everything in his power over his exceptional career playing under the lights at Madison Square Garden.
He just joined the 400-win club, he was the fastest to do achieve that mark ever. He’s approaching 30 wins, which will be the 11th time he’s done so. He is the all-time winningest goalie of European decent, he’s earned a Vezina trophy he has all the accolades except the big one. He needs and deserves a Stanley Cup.
Instead of crunching numbers or analyzing his place in history, Lundqvist would rather consider teammates past and present. He admitted that passing Dominik Hasek among European goalies with a 6-2 win over the Avalanche in Denver on December 31st brought out his sentimental side. He felt the same way after securing Saturday’s memorable win over Colorado, and he paid homage to his devoted Garden fans.“I had so much fun here for so many years,” he said. “The crowd is really into it, and it’s just the best feeling.
Since January 19th, Lundqvist has posted an 8-1-0 record with a 2.01 GAA and .939 save percentage. He was even more unbeatable on the road over that span, owning a 0.97 GAA and .964 save percentage in three starts away from Madison Square Garden.
It’s approaching the best time of the year for hockey fans, the trade deadline is going to come and go and the playoffs will soon be within sight. The Rangers travel to the borough of Brooklyn tonight for a heated rivalry game against the good ole Islanders. Both teams are trying to stay hot and as always it’s going to get a bit outrageous as it always does when these two teams cross paths.