Hank is Still Mr. Clutch

  1. Sure, Henrik Lundqvist produces a now-and-then clunker — what goalie doesn’t? — but he’s still Mister Clutch between the pipes when it counts. In The Show, they call it “stealing games.”
  1. That truth was self-evident last Tuesday night when he single-handedly kept his unraveling — losing two-zip — Rangers from totally self-destructing. His two-period heroics finally ignited Rick Nash who produced his game-of-the-season-goal in the third period.
  1. Nash’s end-to-end rush at the start of the final frame was reminiscent of Hall of Famer Frank (The Big M) Mahovlich who shortened the ice with his long strides. Rick did a ditto on that.
  1. When you think about Nash’s dedication to defense — coupled with his amazing arsenal — you can understand why he’s such a valuable double-dip threat.
  1. New Jersey’s sub-standard record since Taylor Hall went absent-with-injury says it all about how badly John Hynes needs that whiz-kid in the lineup.
  1. There once was an NHLer named Mel Hill who earned the nickname “Sudden Death” for his overtime Bruins heroics in the 1939 playoff against the Rangers. Now you could say that the Islanders could re-name Thomas Hickey “Sudden Death Hickey.” After all, Tom has six OT winners — including the playoffs — since coming to Nassau in 2012.
  1. Alain Vigneault is smart enough to realize that from here to Spring opponents will be trying to curtail his Blueshirts speed. Recent New York defeats suggest that some teams know how to slow the Rangers’ m.p.h.
  1. While the above may be true, A.V. is fortunate to boast a lineup that — for the most part — goes hard every shift. That helps explain their rebound from 0-2 to a 3-2 win over the speedy Hurricanes on Tuesday night.
  1. My Under-The-Radar player award this week goes to Devils defenseman John Moore. A native of Winnetka, Illinois, Johnny is one of the few NHL music buffs who knows there’s a jazz tune called “Big Noise From Winnetka.”
  1. Albany product Nick Lappin looks like he’s with the Devs to stay. He plays the whole rink and does it with savvy. Can score, too.
  1. By Christmas, we may be saying the same thing about another New Jersey rookie — Miles Wood. Islanders fans may remember his father, ever-hustling forward Randy Wood.
  1. Speaking of Albany — and the Devils — a fellow who coached both clubs is now head mentor of the Norfolk Admirals. And that would be our old pal, Robbie Ftorek.
  1. Coaching runs in the Ftorek family. His son Sam, is the head coach of the Roanoke Rail Yard Dawgs of the Southern Professional Hockey League.
  1. Sergey Kalinin is emerging as one of the best penalty-killers in the East. What’s missing from SK’s game are goals. Sooner or later, he’ll find the back of the net and confidence in his offense should return.
  1. Rollie Melanson once was an Islanders fan’s all-time favorite goaltender. It’s good to know that Rollie The Goalie has been working with the Vancouver Canucks netminding prospects in Utica. “I’m in my 22nd year of coaching,” says Rollie, “and it’s been a great ride. I enjoy spending time with the kids.”
  1. Among Melanson’s prize NHL pupils, there are Cory Schneider, Roberto Luongo and Jacob Markstrom.
  1. According to the usually reliable Forbes magazine, the Rangers are the NHL’s most valuable franchise. Forbes estimates that the Blueshirts’ current value totals at $1.25 BILLION. And that’s a four percent increase over last season. The Canadiens are runners-up at $1.12 billion.
  1. What the Devils need in addition to scoring right now is for Schneider to steal a game. A couple of steals wouldn’t hurt either.
  1. Come to think of it, coach Hynes is waiting for Kyle Palmieri to find the form that made him such a dependable Devil in 2015-16. Ditto for Devante Smith-Pelly.
  1. Our sport’s bible, The Hockey News, has hit the stands with an issue titled:”100 People Of Power And Influence.” Guess who’s the highest-paid goaltender?
  1. It’s Henrik Lundqvist with a $9,500,000 Cap hit.

Henrik Lundqvist Hosts UnMasked Event

  1. Another interesting Hockey News category: Teams That Have Best Navigated The Cap For Their 2017 Offseason. The Devils are ranked third behind Carolina and Toronto.
  1. Here’s the THN explanation: “Devils have good flexibility, a mix of UFAs they could or could not sign and low-impact UFAs. Key pieces Hall, Schneider, Palmieri and Andy Greene inked long-term. Devils ate Savard contract, which expires in July.”
  1. One area of the Islanders’ power play that needs work: winning the opening face-off.
  1. There were rumblings after last season that Ryan McDonagh was slipping. Wrong! The Captain is heading for a career year.