At the end of last season, Martin Brodeur, Henrik Lundqvist and Evgeni Nabokov were all Vezina Trophy candidate’s as the league’s top goaltender.
This season, it appears that they are all trying to accomplish that same feat as all three netminders are in the top 10 when it comes to goals-against average, save percentage and more importantly, wins. These masked men are one of the main reasons why their teams are all off to good starts and why going forward, they could all end up being very difficult to beat.
Through the first week in the NHL, I’ve noticed that lots of goaltenders, particularly in the Western Conference, are struggling. They’re allowing lots of soft goals, not making the save at key times, leaving lots of rebounds and more noticeably, not getting the W for their team.
The goaltenders I am talking about are Peter Budaj (Colorado Avalanche), Miika Kiprusoff (Calgary Flames), Jean-Sebastien Giguere (Anaheim Ducks), Joey MacDonald (New York Islanders) and Martin Biron (Philadelphia Flyers).
If there was a team that the New York Rangers were going to lost, it was last night’s against the Buffalo Sabres. Much like the Rangers, the Sabres were undefeated (2-0), getting timely goal-scoring, playing solid defense and getting excellent play from their goaltender (Ryan Miller).
As such, it should come as no surprise that the Blueshirts lost their first game of the regular season last night to the Sabres by a score of 3-1. The team did not generate many scoring chances and took bad penalties, two things that usually lead to a loss.
If one were to ask a knowledgeable New York Ranger fan who would be leading the team in scoring a week into the season, I am sure that he or she would have mentioned the likes of Scott Gomez, Chris Drury, Markus Naslund given all of their talent and experience in the National Hockey League.
Would you believe me if I told you that five games into the young season, Aaron Voros would be leading the Blueshirts in points with seven points each? Well you better beacuse that’s the case.
The New York Rangers squeeked by the Philadelphia Flyers 4-3 for their fourth win of the season thanks to a dominant first period.
The rest of the game? Eh, not so much.
Instead of relying on their first line to do all the goal scoring, the New York Rangers got three out of their four goals from the second line.
“I certainly liked that line tonight, as I’m sure every Rangers fan did,” Rangers head coach Tom Renney told the team’s website. “You could see that with the sum of their parts they could play as they did tonight, and it came together nicely.”
Not only are the Tampa Bay Lightning not scoring, but they’re also making life difficult for their goaltenders.
Through two games, both of which the Lightning lost by a score of 2-1, the team has scored just two goals and has allowed 80 shots on goal. Yes, they’ve gotten away with it because both Mike Smith and Olaf Kolzig have been unbelievable in the two games but can they make it through a full season like that?
This blogger certainly doesn’t think so.
The New York Rangers dominated the Tampa Bay Lightning this afternoon in Prague and yet, only won by a score of 2-1, thanks to a late third period power play goal from second year man Brandon Dubinsky.
Is this a continuation from last season? Are the Rangers going to outshoot every team by a two-to-one margin and score just one or two goals? You would figure that after firing 40 shots against the defensively weak Tampa Bay Lightning, they would have more than just two goals. However, the Blueshirts made Lightning netminder Mike Smith look like Patrick Roy and also went 1-6 on the power play.
So I ask, again, why is this still happening?
He may not be “The Captain” like Mark Messier was and he may not be as offensively prolific as Jaromir Jagr was but there is no doubt that Chris Drury is a valuable leader.
It came as no surprise that the New York Rangers named Chris Drury as the team’s 25th captain tonight while at a team dinner in Prague. According to Sam Weinman of The Journal News, Drury is honored and excited to be leading this team moving forward.
As I’m sure all you hockey fans have heard, Vancover Canucks goaltender Roberto Luongo was named the team captain today by head coach Alain Vigneault.
“We might be a little outside of the box here (naming Luongo captain), but there’s only two things that, as captain, Roberto can’t do and that’s wear the ‘C’ on his jersey or take faceoffs,’’ Vigneault told reporters this afternoon.
When I first heard about this, I wondered if there were any other goaltenders in the Eastern Conference that were the clear leaders on their team. Two stellar masked men happened to come to mind: New Jersey Devils goaltender Martin Brodeur and New York Rangers’ netminder Henrik Lundqvist.
About Goal Line Report
Patrick has a tremendous passion for hockey. Besides covering the Rangers and the NHL for Kukla's Korner, you can also find Patrick's work over at Sportsnet.ca, The Red Light District Hockey Blog, NHL Home Ice, and Liam Maguire's Ultimate Hockey web site.
Prior to writing for the above mentioned outlets, you could find Patrick's musings at hockey web sites/outlets such as TheHockeyNews.com, TheFourthPeriod.com, Spector's Hockey, Hokeja Vestnesis, Blueshirt Bulletin, SNYRangersBlog.com and many more.
For questions, comments and hip checks, feel free to e-mail Patrick at firstname.lastname@example.org.