Looks like someone other than Henrik Lundqvist is a finalist for one of the year end NHL awards. Coach John Tortorella was named a Jack Adams finalist for best coach. The other finalists are Ken Hitchcock of the St. Louis Blues and Paul MacLean of the Ottawa Senators.
Hitchcock took over an under .500 St. Louis squad 13 games into the season and turned them into the second seed in the West and a team that contended for the President’s Trophy. The Blues were 42-15-11 under Hitchcock, and 6-7-0 prior to his arrival.
MacLean took an Ottawa Senators team that was supposed to be a lottery pick team to the playoffs. Their finish was 18 points better than the previous year, and MacLean is of the Tortorella mold, in that he gets everything out of his players.
As for Tortorella, he had to deal with significant injuries to two of his top four defensemen, a four country road trip through Europe, and a west coast swing to start the season. The Rangers couldn’t play at home until the end of October. Anyone that watched 24/7 knows that the Rangers will go through a wall for Tortorella.
If I had to make a prediction, Hitchcock wins the award, followed by Torts, and MacLean finishing third. Hitchcock did wonders with St. Louis, and it’s a testament to his coaching style that turned the Blues season around.
Just one day after leading the Rangers past the Ottawa Senators in the first round, and two days after being announced as a Vezina finalist, Henrik Lundqvist joins the Penguins’ Evgeni Malkin and the Lightning’s Steven Stamkos as the three Hart trophy finalists for the league MVP. Lundqvist had by far the best season of his career this year, posting a 1.97 GAA (4th in the NHL), a .930 SV% (3rd), 39 wins (3rd), and 8 shutouts (3rd). He has been the consistent rock in net for the Rangers, and he makes a playoff team like the Rangers into Cup contenders.
Stamkos led the league with 60 goals this season –thereby winning the Richard Trophy– and finished second in points with 97. He finished second to Malkin, who led the league with 109 points –winning the Art Ross trophy– and finished second in the league in goals with 50.
If the Hart is truly to be awarded to the player most valuable to his team, than Lundqvist is likely the front runner. Without Lundqvist, the Rangers are not the top seed in the East, and are likely barely even a playoff team. The Penguins have had success without Malkin in the past, and the Lightning didn’t even make the playoffs (although that’s more likely due to poor goaltending).
There is a tremendous opportunity for Lundqvist, who can be the first goalie since Jose Theodore to win both the Vezina and the Hart in the same season. The fact that Hank is a Hart finalist should say a lot about how the voting for the Vezina went. One would have to assume that if he is a Hart finalist, that he wins the Vezina. That makes logical sense, right?
In no surprise whatsoever, Henrik Lundqvist was named a finalist for the Vezina trophy this season. Lundqvist had by far the best season of his career this year, posting a 1.97 GAA (4th in the NHL), a .930 SV% (3rd), 39 wins (3rd), and 8 shutouts (3rd). Lundqvist was the rock in the Rangers net, and despite having his numbers slide a little bit in the final month of the year, when the Rangers had already sewn up a playoff spot and home ice advantage, Lundqvist still finished in the top five in each of the four major categories.
The other finalists are the Kings’ Jonathan Quick and the Predators Pekka Rinne. A table summarizing their main stats is below:
This is clearly a two horse race between Quick and Lundqvist. There’s no wrong choice here, but Lundqvist did play in the toughest division in hockey. That should play to the voters.
In what is no surprise to pretty much anyone, Ryan Callahan was not included as a finalist for the Selke Trophy for the NHL’s top defensive forward. The finalists are St. Louis’ David Backes, Boston’s Patrice Bergeron, and Detroit’s Pavel Datsyuk, who has won the award three of the past four years.
Backes finished the season with a line of 20-34-54 while starting just 46% of his shifts in the offensize zone (fewest among Blues forwards). Backes also led the league in Qualcomp this season.
Bergeron finished the year with a line of 22-42-64 with a +36 rating. We don’t generally like the plus/minus stat, but Bergeron’s numbers go beyond that. He is an ace at faceoffs (second in the league), and led Boston in blocked shots and takeaways. What sets Bergeron apart from someone like Ryan Callahan is that Bergeron does all this and still manages to maintain solid puck possession metrics (18.4 RCorsi compared to Cally’s -2.2).
Datsyuk is again a finalist, and finished with a line of 19-48-67 and just 14 PIMs (just seven penalties all year). Datsyuk finished 24th in the league (among forwards) in Qualcomp, and 32nd in RCorsi (13.2). When you look at the Selke, it’s hard not to include Datsyuk every year.
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In what is no surprise to pretty much anyone, Carl Hagelin was not included in the finalists for the Calder Trophy for the NHL’s top rookie. The finalists are Edmonton’s Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, New Jersey’s Adam Henrique, and Colorado’s Gabriel Landeskog.
RNH appears to be the front runner, as he has the post points among the trio in less games (62), with a line of 18-34-52. Comparatively, Landeskog has as many points (22-30-52) in a full 82 games, while Henrique has a line of 16-35-51 in 74 games.
To average this out over 82 games, RNH would finish with a line of approximately 23-44-67. Henrique’s numbers would jump slightly to 17-38-55, and Landeskog’s numbers would remain the same.
Hagelin finished the season with a line of 14-24-38 in 64 games. Averaged out over 82 games, that’s a line of 17-30-47. So the omission of Hagelin is a reasonable one.
My prediction: RNH wins it, probably close to unanimously too.
The race for the Vezina trophy may come down to three finalists, but this year it’s a two horse race between Henrik Lundqvist and Jonathan Quick. To be fair, both are very deserving of the award. They have had tremendous years, and are clearly the two best goalies this year. While we have been spoiled by having the best goalie in the world in net, the Kings would not be anywhere even close to the playoffs without Quick. Even looking at the stats, there’s no clear cut winner between the two of them:
Lundqvist: 39-17-5, 1.93 GAA, .931 SV%, 8 SO
Quick: 35-21-12, 1.93 GAA, .929 SV%, 10 SO
Before Quick gave up five goals to the Sharks, Quick’s numbers may have made him the front runner for the award. However, that five goal game gave Lundqvist the superior numbers heading into the season’s final game. The award is not just based on numbers though. Both goalies have a case for and case against that will be thought about by the GMs before a decision is made.
The case for Lundqvist
Lundqvist is the single most important player on the best team in the Eastern Conference, and possibly the NHL. The Rangers have had significant injuries to two of their top four defensemen, and have used a whopping 11 players on the blue line throughout the season. All that in a division that has four teams with 100 points, and four of the top six seeds in the Eastern Conference. If the division winners weren’t given the top three seeds, than the division would have four of the top five seeds. Against those opponents in the Atlantic, Lundqvist is 14-5-0 with a 1.84 GAA and a .936 SV%. Lundqvist is the best goalie in the league playing in the toughest division in the NHL.
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Two little tidbits hit the news waves this morning. First, as said here on Monday, Rangers prospects Andrew Yogan and Peter Ceresnak have officially joined the Connecticut Whale. Both are on ATO’s, which means that Ceresnak can return to the OHL next year. Yogan is playing for his Rangers career, and will need to earn an entry level contract.
The other news is that Dan Girardi is the Rangers nominee for the Bill Masterton trophy, which awards the player who best exemplifies the qualities of perseverance, sportsmanship, and dedication to hockey. Past Rangers who have won the trophy include Jean Ratelle (1970-71), Rob Gilbert (1975-76), Anders Hedberg (1984-85), and Adam Graves (2000-01).
Brian Leetch will be in Hartford next week on March 10 to be inducted into the Connecticut Hockey Hall of Fame. We all know what Leetch is and what he has done and what he has meant to this organization. Bruce Berlet has a great write up for the CT HHOF, and you can read it here.
A little late on this one, but here’s the game thread for the 2012 All Star Game. Lineups are below, with Marian Gaborik and Henrik Lundqvist starting for their respective teams:
Michalek – Spezza – Alfredsson
Couture – Giroux – Stamkos
Sedin – Sedin – Hartnell
Neal – Tavares – Pominville
Karlsson – Letang
Yandle – Weber
Edler – Girardi
Lundqvist – Quick – Elliott
Gaborik – Datsyuk – Hossa
Perry – Malkin – Iginla
Lupul – Seguin – Kessel
Benn – Kane – Eberle
Chara – Campbell
Phaneuf – Wideman
Suter – Timonen
Howard – Price – Thomas
The NHL has announced the participants of the NHL Skills Competition, to take place tonight. The four Rangers participating will be in six events:
- Skills Challenge Relay
- Elimination Shootout
- Shooting Accuracy (passer)
- Fastest Skater (side note: he only loses if he blows a tire)
- Elimination Shootout
The remaining contest listings can be found here.