The New York Rangers did not exactly enter their bye week on a high note, losing five of their past eight games including a 2-1 decision in Vegas to the Golden Knights heading into the bye.
They were not particularly sharp in their return to action on Saturday afternoon, either.
With a back-to-back situation this weekend against the New York Islanders and Pittsburgh Penguins, Rangers coach Alain Vigneault decided to give backup goal Ondrej Pavelec the start on Saturday afternoon, saving Henrik Lundqvist for the Sunday night game in Pittsburgh.
That decision kind of backfired because not only did Pavelec not play well, he ended up needing to use Lundqvist anyway.
After Pavelec gave up five goals on only 20 shots in 25 minutes of action, the Rangers had to call on Lundqvist to help … well … do something. Before he actually entered the game that “something” included him skating along the bench and trying to fire up his team.
Hank with the pep talk before going in. pic.twitter.com/w8EjRyBvWf
— Merry Blinnsmas (@NHLBlinn) January 13, 2018
That is something you do not usually see and it would be absolutely fascinating to hear what is being said in this moment.
This has to be an especially frustrating time for Lundqvist.
He has been the foundation of the Rangers organization for more than a decade and has at times been one of the biggest reasons the team has been competitive, consistently masking whatever flaws the Rangers’ roster may have had in any given season (in recent years, it’s been the defense).
He has been one of the best goalies in the world and is still searching for his first Stanley Cup. Given that he turns 36 in less than two months he has to know the time to get one is running out, and it seems the team around him isn’t quite up to the task of helping to get him there this season.