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There are 4 big reasons the Rangers are struggling as badly as they are right now, and I think all 4 are equally important.

  • The Rangers have 5 defenseman right now whose ages are 19, 21, 22, 25, and 25, and combined they have a bit more than 4 years of NHL experience prior to this season.
  • Henrik Lundqvist is the highest paid goalie in the league. Yet his has the 22nd best save percentage, and the 27th best goals against average. He is not having a “King” type season.
  • The Rangers have only 2 forwards performing at better than expected levels (Gaborik, and Prospal), the other 11 or 12 guys that have played forward for us this year have been producing, for the most part, at below average pace (see below)
  • The team is just flat out unlucky, pucks aren’t bouncing their way, they are hitting goal posts all over the place, the just can’t seem to get the hockey gods on their side.
  • So, let’s talk about Henrik first. If you’ve read this blog at all, you know how much of a supporter of his I am. I love the guy, he’s the reason we are always in the playoff hunt, but as I mentioned before, the highest paid goalie can not have those kinds of numbers. And before you say it’s because of the team in front of him, remember that it’s been this way for Henrik his entire tenure here, he has never had an easy time of it between the pipes, he has constantly been under siege, and his shots per game this year are almost identical to last years, and the years before (in fact its slightly lower this year than last year). Henrik has not been sharp, and 2 of the 4 goals scored today should have been stopped by a goalie of Lundqvists caliber. Oh, he’s stopping all the shots most goalies do, he’s giving you an average NHL goalie performance, but he’s not an average NHL goalie, he isn’t even a very good NHL goalie, Henrik Lundqvist, when he is on top of his game, is nothing less than one of the best goalies on this planet. He must play a hell of a lot better for this team, especially when they are struggling they way they are.

    The third thing there is the underperformance of many members of the team, in particular though we need to look at Chris Drury, Chris Higgins, and Ryan Callahan. Why those 3? Here’s why. Coming into this season Ryan Callahan has averaged 19 goals per 82 games played, Chris Higgins has averaged 24 goals per 82 games played, and Chris Drury has averaged 25 goals per 82 game season. So, coming into this season, for secondary scoring, you figure those 3 guys are good for about 68 goals right? You figure one guy will score a bit more, one guy a bit less, but total they should come in at roughly 68 goals for the year. The unfortunate thing here is that, if they continue this pace, they will come in at a combined 25 goals. COMBINED!!!! We are talking about 43 goals that those guys were supposed to account for that are coming off the top of our expected offensive output. So, to put that in perspective, right now the Rangers are ranked 14th in the NHL at 2.89 goals per game (total 78 goals). If Drury, Higgins and Callahan were performing at their expected level, that number would be at 3.41 goals per game (total 92 goals). I calculated that by adding in what their expected goals were over 27 games and subtracted their current goals. 3.41 goals per game gives you the #2 ranked offense in the NHL, a fraction behind #1 ranked Atlanta. You see how important those 3 players are? When people talk about secondary scoring, really you need to look no further than those 3 players. If the other guys on this team keep performing at the rate they have been, but those 3 finally start producing the way they have their entire career, this team would be significantly better than they are now.

    I think a lot of our problems stem from the old squeezing the sticks too tight. Right now this team is so nervous about every mistake that they overthink too much. Henrik is scared about giving up a softie that every save becomes a battle for him. Higgins is scared that he’s going to shoot it right into the goalies pads that he goes for the corners, and hits the post instead. What this team needs right now is a break. A mental break from hockey. They need to go out, go have some fun, get loose, get back in the frame of mind where you play by instinct instead of thinking too damn hard. The Rangers have some time off now, and it’s up to their coach to right this ship. Instead of just giving them the day off tomorrow, like he’s planning, they should instead take the entire team out to some sort of bar or something, go have some fun, shoot some pool, whatever, just get away from hockey. I think that mental relaxation can do wonders for a team that is just so snake bitten right now in every facet of the game that it’s not even funny.

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