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Oh Henrik!

12/7/09

After playing almost six periods of elite-level goaltending, Henrik let in a softy against Detroit that cost the Rangers at least a shot at overtime. I thought the guys in front of Lundqvist played one of their best games of the year, including Calli and Higgins, but got stonewalled by Detroit's rookie goalie Jimmy Howard time and time again. In the end, Henrik was outshone by the rookie who stole this one from the Rangers in surrendering just the Boyle goal on a beautiful deflection from Brian Boyle that he had no chance of stopping.

Even though the Rangers only got two of the possible four points against Buffalo and Detroit (both quality teams) they looked a lot better than they have. The goals still weren't there, but the chances were and had it not been for Howard's glove and left pad the Blueshirts would have beaten the Wings by a couple of goals. But what was noticable is that this team had some burst and jump.

I think the team fed off of the energy that Avery, Higgins, and Callahan played with, especially against Detroit, and it was nice to see the latter two find the back of the net against Buffalo. Those two are going to need to get hot and stay hot if New York wants to take make some kind of a run towards and into the postseason.

It was also nice to see a fourth line with a little bit of talent. I like Tortorella's decision to go with Parenteau and Lisin on the line with Boyle. Parenteau has shown he can score goals, and Lisin played with a lot of speed. That line was a drastic change from one that featured Voros and Brashear (ugh!).

This weekend we also saw who the faces of this defense are. Staal and Del Zotto were flat out awesome in both games. Combined with the physical play of Girardi and Heikinen who looked like he belonged, this defense could become very stout through the rest of the season.

Even though a lot of guys played well this weekend, the bottom line is that the Rangers were only a .500 club and this team will go as Henrik goes. As great as he was this weekend, two of the three goals he surrendered were not good. He needs to be elite for this team to be succesful.

Speaking of goalies, I think Stephen Valiquette deserves an applause. Even though he didn't play very well this season, he has meant a lot to the team and I think to Henrik. He was a very good backup for a couple of seasons here and was a good team guy. I'm sorry to see him go but I think it had to be done. I can't wait to see what kind of game Johnson can have between the pipes at the NHL level.

-Mike Valvano

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