|NHL Preview: Tampa Bay Lightning at New York Rangers|
|Written by Anthony Rome|
|Monday, 29 October 2007 02:45|
Little Help Please?
The New York Rangers' surprising lack of offense is placing far too heavy a burden on Henrik Lundqvist.
New York's goaltender hopes to get more support from his struggling teammates Monday night when the Rangers face the Tampa Bay Lightning at Madison Square Garden.
Oddsmakers from SBG Global have made New York -141 money line favorites (NHL Odds) for today's game, the over/under has been set at 5.5 goals (Matchup). Current public betting information shows that 72% of bets for this game have been placed on New York -141 (View NHL Bet Percentages).
Perhaps the biggest surprise in the season's first month has been the Rangers' offensive woes. Adding high-priced free agents Chris Drury and Scott Gomez to a lineup that already included 600-goal scorers Jaromir Jagr and Brendan Shanahan figured to make New York one of the league's most potent teams.
Ten games into the season, however, New York has scored an NHL-low 16 goals - four fewer than Phoenix, the next-closest team.
The one constant for the Rangers has been Lundqvist, who ranks fourth in the NHL with a 1.90 goals-against average while playing all 10 games. His play is the biggest reason why New York headed into Saturday's game against Toronto having allowed a league-low 17 goals.
Lundqvist, though, allowed three second-period goals - two more than he gave up in his three previous games combined - and the Rangers were held in check again in a 4-1 loss.
"They pretty much beat us with a good eight-minute stretch," Lundqvist said. "It's going to be too tough on the defense if we have to rely on a one-goal lead every night. We played well but we have to score more."
The loss was the fifth in six games for New York (3-6-1), which has scored 11 goals in nine contests since a season-opening 5-2 victory over Florida.
"I still believe strongly that there is a lot to like in our game," Rangers coach Tom Renney told the team's official Web site.
Just about every Rangers forward is struggling, but none more than Drury, who was signed to a five-year, $35 million contract on July 1. Coming off a career-high 37 goals with Buffalo in 2006-07, Drury has one goal this season and no points in four straight games.
The Rangers and Lightning split four meetings last season, each winning twice at home. Lundqvist is 3-0-1 with one shutout and a 0.98 goals-against average lifetime against Tampa Bay.
This is the first of three straight road games for the Lightning (5-3-1), who have been outscored 15-8 in losing all three games away from home.
Tampa Bay looks to rebound after its five-game home win streak was snapped Saturday with a 4-3 overtime loss to Buffalo.
Vincent Lecavalier had a potential winning goal disallowed with 2:56 left in third when the officials ruled Tampa Bay's Martin St. Louis interfered with Sabres goalie Ryan Miller.
"The goal should be disallowed, there's no question," Lightning coach John Tortorella said. "The goalie was not able to do his job with Marty being there. It's the right call."
Vaclav Prospal scored his team-leading ninth goal for the Lightning and fourth in his last four games. Prospal had only 14 goals in 82 games last season.
Center Brad Richards had an assist to extend his point streak to six games. He has three goals and seven assists during that span.
Tampa Bay's Johan Holmqvist likely will make his third straight start and his fourth against his former team. Holmqvist, who made his NHL debut with the Rangers on Oct. 27, 2000, is 2-2-0 with a 3.44 GAA in four appearances against New York.
by: Staff Writers - Email Us
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