New York Rangers were humiliated last night against San Jose Sharks. Plain and simple they were outplayed in every part of the game and the defense looked lost. The performance was a far cry from the night before in L.A., beating Los Angeles Kings with a gritty and hard-nosed attack as well as tough blue-line defending. The Rangers looked like a completely different team last night. They looked like the team fans saw in preseason and against Phoenix Coyotes in the first game of the season. They looked like a team who may need to start convincing their star goaltender to stick around after this year and they need to start convincing him fast.
Henrik Lundqvist, whose current contract runs out with Rangers at the end of the season, has been the backbone of this team for quite some time now. It would be impossible to count how many times Hank has been there to bail his team out in a tight game or single handedly help carry them to victory. He is without a doubt the most important player on this roster, but is he going to stick around much longer?
I’m beginning to see a dejected and frustrated Lundqvist, one who is seemingly fed up with getting no help from the rest of his teammates. It would be nice for the 31 year old goaltender to come to the rink at least once and not feel like he needs to save his team from defeat. That rarely happens, and Lundqvist may be looking for that help outside of New York.
Priority number one for all NHL players during their careers is to win a Stanley Cup, something Lundqvist has not accomplished yet. He is in the prime of his career, but he isn’t getting any younger. If the Rangers continue down this road of losing games by three or four goal margins, Lundqvist will have to weigh his options and decide where he has the best chance of hoisting Lord Stanley’s Cup. It may not be New York.
I’m not saying the Rangers’ season is over, in fact, it’s far from it. Many fans have already stepped to the ledge after last night’s humiliating defeat in San Jose, but the reality of the situation is that there are 79 more games left this season. The Rangers have been on a West Coast road trip for over half a month, they are still getting Ryan Callahan and Derek Stepan into playing shape, and they faced a very good Sharks team last night all while continuing to learn a new system.
Seasons take time to develop, as do decisions. The Rangers will need to start playing better hockey not only in order to have a successful season, but also to convince their superstar goaltender to stay in New York so they can try to finish what they started and win a Cup together.
Martin Burns covers New York Rangers hockey for Rant Sports. Follow him on Twitter for more of his thoughts on the Blueshirts as well as the rest of the NHL!