By Jon Gabrielle, NY Rangers correspondent
Who says the New York Rangers don’t have a game plan?
Every night head coach, John Tortorella sends out Henrik Lundqvist and asks him to pitch a shutout.
After all, aren’t we always hearing from guys and teams that are struggling…”we have to simplify our game,” or “we have to keep things simple?” Can’t get more simple than waltzing out your Swedish Olympic champion behind your team and in front of your cage.
And last night for 54 minutes and 5 seconds…the plan was working to perfection!
Up to that point, Lundqvist had stopped 35 shots, many of the acrobatic variety and the Rangers were clinging to a 1-0 lead over the Chicago Blackhawks in front of a packed house at the United Center.
Unfortunately, even King Henry has his breaking point, and he finally acquiesced late in the third period off a goal mouth scramble. That knotted the score at one and sent the fans into a frenzy.
The only thing left in doubt was whether the Blueshirts could hang on and garner at least a point in the standings?
They did when Dustin Byfuglien ended their night by racing past Matt Gilroy in the neutral zone, putting a nice deke on Lundqvist, and burying the puck with 77 seconds left in overtime, giving the Hawks a 2-1 win.
The Rangers scoring woes have been well documented and most recently have notched just 11 goals in their last 7 games. Barely averaging over a goal a game during that span.
Naturally the topic of offense, or lack thereof, would be on the minds of reporters during the post game press conference.
Sam Rosen, the esteemed MSG broadcaster, who has been with the Rangers for over twenty years, and also does FOX football games on Sundays, asked Tortorella about the search for offense. The coach snapped back, “forget about the offense Sam, that’s not my concern tonight.”
The visibly frustrated Tortorella, has tried to remain upbeat in recent weeks. However, last night he had this to say. “They had the puck all night…I thought we stunk tonight.”
The final shot tally was Chicago, 41 and the Rangers, 18.
Not surprisingly, Lundqvist was elected the second star of the game.
When asked about Lundqvist, he quipped, “he’s the only one who played…about the only one who played.”
Regardless of Tortorella’s remarks, there has to be some major rumbling among the Ranger’s top brass as well as the coaching staff.
“Iron” Mike Keenan chimed in on Lundqvist and the anemic Ranger offense. “He(Lundqvist) has no margain for error…it’s got to make it hard on his psyche!”
Not to mention the game plan.