Quick Hits: Henrik Lundqvist ready for next step, Antti Raanta talks Chicago, and Patrick Kane could be traded?

Bobby Bevilacqua

Quick hits is back! There still isn’t really anything new happening in the hockey world, especially surrounding the Rangers, at least not until the Traverse City Tournament starts up. So here’s somethings going on in the hockey world.

Henrik Lundqvist ready to take next step with New York

henrik lundqvist 1-29

Photo courtesy of MSG Photos.

Everybody knows that Henrik Lundqvist is the most determined, passionate, and hard-working players on the Rangers, and maybe even in the NHL. His work ethic is unquestionable, he wears his heart on his sleeve, and it’s his effort and his success that has carried the Rangers since he made his debut in 2005.

Unfortunately, he has never been able to hoist that elusive Stanley Cup trophy, a prize that has eluded the Broadway Blueshirts for the last 21 years. Despite numerous close calls over the past four years, Lundqvist remains without a championship to his name.

Despite the disappointing ends to the past couple of seasons, Henrik Lundqvist remains positive and motivated, driven by the team’s strong core and ability to perform when it matters the most.

“If I look back at the last four years, we’ve had a lot of great moments, especially in the playoffs,” the Rangers goaltender told Pat Leonard of the New York Daily News. “You learn from it and you appreciate it, but obviously the main goal is to take that final step.”

“We’re close, we’re really close. We just need to take that final step. I think it feeds motivation, being close. You know you’re doing good things, doing the right things. You just need to make sure as a group and personally you take that final step.”

The Rangers have been extremely close during the past few years, losing in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference Finals to the Devils in 2012, Game 5 of the Stanley Cup Finals to the Kings in 2014, and Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals against the Tampa Bay Lightning this past season.

The Rangers really should be motivated to succeed after falling just short over the past few years, and opening the season while watching the Blackhawks raise their championship banner to the rafters on October 7th should be a bit of a gut punch as well.

The Rangers have a bit of a new look to them as they begin the 2015-16 season, with Jeff Gorton holding the reigns and a mostly new bottom six group on the ice. Some people would argue that they lost some important players and are lacking an offensive punch, but with the fresh young faces, the Rangers have the potential to be much better.

“I definitely think we have as good of a team as last year, but it’s up to us to prove it, obviously,” said Lundqvist. “Changes will always happen for different reasons, but I like the fact that the core is still here. It’s a group that‘s been playing together for a lot of years. We’ve been through the ups and downs, we know what to expect from each other. I think that’s going to help us again this year.”

Lundqvist went 30-13-3 in the regular season last year, despite missing 25 games with a neck injury. He was fantastic in the playoffs, posting an 11-8 record with a 2.11 GAA and a .928 save percentage in the playoffs. If the rest of the team rallies around him, then we could have a parade in June in Manhattan.

Antti Raanta wanted the Blackhawks to get swept


Photo courtesy of the Chicago Blackhawks.

Recently, an interview that Antti Raanta, the Rangers new backup goaltender, did with a Finnish newspaper has made its way around the internet. In that interview, he said that he was hoping that the Blackhawks would get swept by the Nashville Predators so he could go back to his home in Finland sooner.

Now considering that he played for Chicago at that time, it seems like a pretty bad thing to say. But honestly, he had his reasons, and I don’t blame him!

Raanta started the season as the backup to Corey Crawford, appearing in 14 games and posting a .936 save percentage. At times, some fans expected him to challenge Crawford for the starting job. But he was usurped by Scott Darling, and Raanta lost his backup job.

It can be tough for a player to cope with losing his job in the NHL, and then go on to not play in the playoffs in the AHL either, something he probably deserved. So while those comments may have been a bit harsh, it was out of anger, and I’d be angry too if I were in his shoes.

Later, Mark Lazerus of the Chicago-Sun Times spoke with Raanta, who denied saying anything like that. He said that he was frustrated for a bit, but that went away quickly. Raanta added, “I’m not that kind of guy, that I would say something like that, and hope my team to lose, even if I’m not playing goalie.”

You can read more about it and see tweets from the reporter that broke the story HERE.

The Blackhawks may want to consider trading Patrick Kane

patrick kane

Photo courtesy of the Chicago Blackhawks.

Another piece from Mark Lazerus was published in the Chicago Sun-Times recently (LINK), where he controversially suggested that the Blackhawks may want to just go ahead and trade away their $10.5 million man.

While some people may be scratching their heads, and questioning Mr. Lazerus’ sanity, he does make sense. Yes, Patrick Kane is innocent until proven guilty, but this is not the first time that he has gotten in trouble. Kane is known for partying, being caught drunk in public, and even assaulting a cab driver once. The Blackhawks are practically the ideal look for a sports franchise, both on and off the ice, and Kane goes against their image.

There is also a lot of uncertainty surrounding his availability for the upcoming season. The rape allegation is just that, an allegation, and no changes have been filed against him. But if he does get charged, it could take weeks, months, or even years to sort everything out. Perhaps the NHL would wind up suspending him until everything is settled. The uncertainty surrounding him is very frightening for the franchise.

The Blackhawks could avoid a massive headache by unloading the 26 year old superstar. Chicago isn’t short of takers either, with at least five teams contacting them after the Buffalo News first reported the allegations. Kane is entering the first year of an eight year, $84 million contract, identical to the one that Jonthan Toews signed.

There has been no indication that the Blackhawks would be willing to part ways with their young superstar, but they should consider it. Trading him and getting a return is a much better option than seeing him swarmed by media every day, a massive distraction, having him suspended while his case is settled, and having a cloud hovering over them as they attempt to defend their title.

Stan Bowman would get a massive haul as well, whether it be in quality players, tons of draft picks, and $10.5 million in free cap space. Lazerus closed it out best in his own article.

“Since the news of the investigation broke on Aug. 6, Kane has been removed from the cover of the popular EA Sports NHL ’16 video game. And his junior team, the Ontario Hockey League’s London Knights, took Kane’s name off one of their training camp teams. They were quick, decisive moves to distance themselves from an unfortunate and toxic situation.”

“Your move, Hawks.”

Posted on September 2, 2015, in In the Crease and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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