Kukla's Korner

Goal Line Report

Helping Henrik Lundqvist

Ever since New York Rangers’ goaltender Henrik Lundqvist joined the NHL, the net has been his.

He’s averaged more than 60 games, 30 wins a season, many shutouts, a solid goals-against average and save percentage and has brought many other positive intangilbles to the hockey club.

With that said, however, and as Larry Brooks pointed out in his article today in the New York Post, the “King” is currently struggling to provide consistent goaltending to his team.

In his article, Brooks mentions the following:

For the coach now must figure out the way to get the most out of a slumping, inconsistent Henrik Lundqvist, the goaltender who for the last three years has been the lone name above the title on the marquee, but who has essentially been outplayed thus far by backup Martin Biron.

It would be no surprise if Tortorella elects to go with Biron tonight at the Garden against the Flames off yet another fine performance in Saturday’s 5-2 victory in Minnesota. If that’s the call, it would mark Biron’s eighth start in 22 games—a year after backups got a total of 10 starts in 82 games.

It’s safe to say that Brooks makes a good point here. Lundqvist (7-7-1, 2 shutouts, 2.75 goals against average, .914 save percentage)) has not been himself over the last few weeks while Biron (4-2-0), 2.33 goals against average, .907 save percentage) has been solid between the pipes and has picked up some victories.

For Lundqvist, this can only be a good thing. A team should not have to play their starting goaltender every night because if they do, they will surely run into trouble come April.

By having a good back-up goaltender, the team has someone who can not only give their starting netminder rest, but also has someone who can push the starter to be even better.

With that said, Brooks suggests that the team should start Biron tonight against the Flames as Biron is coming off a solid win over the Minnesota Wild on Saturday night in Minnesota:

If Biron plays tonight, it will be because the coach believes No. 43 will give his team the best chance to win; and, just as important, believes Lundqvist needs a couple of hard practice days with goaltending instructor Benoit Allaire to refocus and reclaim both his confidence and technique, which have come and gone with his aura.

Again, there is no goaltending controversy here. Something needs to be done to wake Henrik up a little bit so he can get on a roll and be the goaltender he has always been for the Rangers - the franchise netminder.


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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 patrickhoffman3530@gmail.com.