Unfortunately, I didn't get to watch the Rangers' first two pre-season games as they fell out at the very beginning and the very end of one of Judaism's holiest days of the year: Yom Kippur. From what I've read, however, it doesn't seem as though I missed much. Especially not in the second game against Philly!
Not surprisingly, whatever chemistry Gomez and Jagr seemed to develop at the practice rink didn't translate onto the ice during their exhibition match versus Philly. Obviously it's extremely early in the season and their is absolutely no cause for concern...yet! Expecting instant game chemistry between offensive minded skilled forwards is unrealistic. That's especially true in the pre-season when players are still working through their off-season rust.
That being said, there's also no denying that it may take some time for the Rangers' to develop chemistry and the all important team identity. The Rangers' underwent a major overhaul this summer. That's a lot for any team to adjust to. How much more so for a team like the Rangers that is first learning how to win again after nearly a decade in the abyss.
That's why Lundqvist may very well be the most important player heading into the season: If he plays well he'll keep the team in most games as they struggle to adjust to one another and their own individual roles. With the amount of individual talent this team has, they'll be able to score some opportunistic goals here and there in order to win some games that they should have lost based on their play. If Lundqvist plays well he can help "steal" some of these games for his teammates as they struggle through their adjustment phase. Those "stolen" points will prove crucial down the stretch.
On the other hand, if Lundqvist starts slowly (as he did last season) the Rangers' may very well need to start playing playoff hockey in February just to qualify for the postseason.
Goaltending has long been considered the most important position in hockey. For this years Rangers that may surely hold true. Many people have felt that Lundqvist would have to stand on his head to mask the team's porous defense. That's probably true. Now, however, Lundqvist may have to stand on his head for another reason as well: to give his teammates some breathing room as they adjust to their new roles.
Perhaps management was wise in not spending what little extra money the team has on Michael Peca. Perhaps Slats & Co. should consider spending that money on a quality back-up to give Hank a little break here and there. Let's not even talk about having an insurance policy in case of a .....(gulp!) injury to Lundqvist!