For the first four months of the season, the Vezina was a foregone conclusion. Henrik Lundqvist had the award wrapped up. Then along came Jonanthan Quick and his stellar last two months to get the Kings to the playoffs. After that, there was much debate over who should win. There was no wrong choice, both deserved the award, but in the end it was Henrik Lundqvist winning the award after his fourth nomination.
Lundqvist finished the season with a 39-18-5 record, a 1.97 GAA, a .930 SV%, and 8 shutouts. Quick finished with a 35-21-13 record, a 1.95 GAA, a .929SV%, and a league leading 10 shutouts. Both were equally deserving, and it was nice to see Hank finally get the nod in what turned out to be a lopsided vote. Hank had 17 first place votes, Quick had six.
Ryan Callahan (Mark Messier Award) and John Tortorella (Jack Adams) finished as runner-ups (runners-up?) for their respective awards. Hank lost out on the Hart Trophy to Evgeni Malkin.
Hello everybody. I’ll be in New York in less than two weeks and it will feel odd. It will be the first summer time trip there and the first time outside of hockey season. No Rangers? Not right. I’m sure I’ll cope though. On to the musings
The Montreal Canadiens will be starting next season with Marc Bergevin and Michael Therrien at the helm of the storied franchise. I can’t help feeling that with the return of Therrien that club will be spinning its wheels for a year or two.
Speaking of Canadian teams, good move: the Bob Hartley appointment in Calgary. Bad move: Steve Tambellini getting a new deal in Edmonton. How does a general manager keep his club near the bottom of the league despite lottery pick after lottery pick and get rewarded with a new contract?
So the Rangers are linked heavily to Alexander Radulov. I can’t help thinking about Nikolai Zherdev when I think of Radulov: hugely talented on the ice, hugely problematic off it. If the Rangers get him he’ll cost a lot in dollars because he won’t sign anywhere for pittance. The cost to acquire may be minimal but the commitment to a big (but talented) risk will be significant – for whatever club snag him.
How weak is the free agent class of 2012?
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Goaltending this season was a huge factor in both the Rangers regular season and postseason success. The tandem of Henrik Lundqvist and Martin Biron finished third in the league in goals against during the regular season, behind only the notoriously stingy St. Louis Blues and LA Kings.
In addition to the goalie report cards, I’m also going to break down management. John Tortorella, Mike Sullivan and Glen Sather have their fingerprints all over this team, so we’ll also take a look at how they performed this season. Let’s get to it…
- Honestly, at this point, what is there to say about The King that hasn’t already been said? The presumptive Vezina winner and Hart nominee had an absolutely dominant regular season and a Stanley Cup worthy post-season. His biggest problem was that the Rangers couldn’t score.
- Although Hank has always been in the conversation of the league’s elite netminders, this season he cemented himself firmly at the top, along with Jonathan Quick and Pekka Rinne. I’ll entertain arguments for any of those guys as the top tender, but for my money, no one can dethrone The King right now.
- With a final line of: 39 wins, 1.97 GAA and .930 SV (top 3 in the NHL in each), Lundqvist was the backbone of the Blueshirts yet again.
- Mid-season grade: A+/Full season grade: A/Playoffs: A
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It’s a depressing musing day. It’s the day between games and we’re potentially a day away from the end of the season. If you’re negative that is. Anyway, let’s get on to the musings.
Marian Gaborik scored. Ryan Callahan scored. The offense wasn’t the issue in the game five defeat. The defense was subpar and above all the Rangers couldn’t keep the Devils top players in check. Kovalchuk, Parise and Zajac combined for 5 points. The Rangers have yet to play a game this series (arguably all playoffs) where every facet of their game – defense, goaltending, offense, special teams – has clicked at the same time.
I read a few things today where people have begun to criticise Lundqvist, because of game five. If I meet any of these people in person I may very well attack them. I loves me a good beat down. I cannot tolerate mindless fools and/or drama queens. Step away from the ledge.
Whether it was injury or not; Ryan Callahan, despite being impressive in game five, hasn’t been the offensive force in these playoffs that he needs to be. That says a lot. Why? The Rangers have one heck of a leader and all rounder hockey player in Cally. However, on offensively strong teams Callahan would be an offensive compliment not a go-to-guy.
I think tiredness is present in the Rangers but it’s maybe overstated. I think sometimes the media create stories and players and teams can often buy into them, believe them. Is that going on here?
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The Rangers were able to gut out a 3-0 win today against the New Jersey Devils to take a 2-1 series lead in the Eastern Conference Final. The Blueshirts won despite 40 minutes of sub-par play, due to the absolute brilliance of Henrik Lundqvist, who finished with 36 saves. In a weird way, this game almost mirrored Game 1 in every way. A less than spectacular performance through two periods while keeping the game scoreless, followed by a Dan Girardi goal early in third, Chris Kreider giving the Rangers some breathing room and an empty netter. Let’s break this bad boy down…
- After Marian Gaborik drew a hooking penalty on Bryce Salvador early in the third, the power play went to work. There really isn’t much to break down on this one. Brad Richards won the draw in the offensive zone and Girardi slid into the slot to retrieve the puck and fired a laser past Marty Brodeur. There was very little traffic in front, Girardi just beat Marty clean for a much needed goal after the way the team played for the first two periods.
- John Mitchell started this play off with a fantastic, hard-working shift. He was able to get the puck deep into the offensive zone and try to kick-start the cycle. Cally got the puck around the boards up to McDonagh at the point, and McD fired on shot towards the net. Chris Kreider was in perfect position for a nice little deflection past Brodeur to widen the gap just a bit. With the way Lundqvist was playing, it seemed like the nail in the coffin for New Jersey. Read more »
You’d think a Rangers related blog would champion the last line of defense more than most. However the last line of defense – the goaltender – isn’t everything. Despite being a Hart and Vezina finalist, despite being the best goaltender on the planet this season, Henrik Lundqvist still needs a quality blueline in front of him to succeed, as does any successful goalie for that matter. It is this consideration however, why the Rangers should feel confident they can handle the surprisingly strong Devils in the conference finals.
Why you ask? Look at the Capitals. They had a former Norris candidate, blueline scoring machine in Mike Green start to rediscover his form in the Rangers series. They had two future studs in Karl Alzner and John Carlson and a quality top four defenseman in Dennis Wideman. They had a deep defense, one of the few that on paper can match the Rangers unit. Then, behind that defense they had a solid netminder. While the Rangers never tested Braden Holtby enough, part of the reason they got so little rubber on net was what was because of what was in front of him.
Of course Braden Holtby is not Marty Brodeur. The Devil is a legend at his position who is enjoying an Indian summer. That said Marek Zidlicky, Andy Greene, Peter Harrold, Bryce Salvador and Mark Fayne hardly comprise an intimidating defense. Would Holtby have had the same level of success without the quality that was in front of him? With all due respect, probably not.
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Well, that was awesome, huh? The Rangers are going to the Conference Finals for the first time since 1997 with a 2-1 win over the Washington Capitals in Game 7 of the Conference Semi-Finals. Brad Richards and Henrik Lundqvist were the story in this one, as well as tremendous team defense from the Blueshirts. Let’s break down the goals…
- Michael Del Zotto started this play by getting the puck deep. Carl Hagelin used his speed on the forecheck to gain possession and began to move the puck around the net. The forecheck caught 4 Capitals in the slot or below, which opened up the top of the offensive zone.
- Hagelin slipped a pass to a trailing Richards, which caught Niklas Backstrom too low in coverage, and Richie blasted a slapshot under Braden Holtby’s left arm. It was just the quick strike the Rangers needed. First goal, got the crowd into it, just 1:32 in.
- The Rangers’ second goal originated in their own zone. Michael Del Zotto made a great hit on Alex Ovechkin, causing a turnover at the Ranger blue line. Carl Hagelin quickly picked the puck up and led Marian Gaborik.
- Gabby turned on the jets realizing the Caps were in the midst of a change and carried the puck into the Caps’ zone. The defenders converged on Gabby’s shot from the high slot, blocking the wrister. Unfortunately for them, they lost track of the puck in the slot and lined up a perfect screen for Michael Del Zotto. DZ grabbed the puck in the slot and fired a nice little snap shot to the low stick side of Holtby. Read more »
Sticking with our Henrik Lundqvist theme for today, there was a great discussion on Twitter between Japers Rink and Neil Greenberg of the Washington Post regarding the myth of the playoff goat or playoff underachiever. Fairly or not, Lundqvist (and Alex Ovechkin) have been labeled as playoff losers because both are elite players who have never advanced past the second round. In Lundqvist’s case, this is especially unfair as this is really just the second season he’s really had a team capable of making it past the second round.
Save for the 2006-2007 Rangers that were very capable of making a run (stupid Chris Drury!), Lundqvist has always been the reason why the Rangers made the playoffs. He made a mediocre team a playoff team, and in 2009 carried them to within one win of a major upset of these Washington Capitals. But, the team around him wasn’t a playoff caliber team, and they lost.
Now, this is a Ranger team that is a playoff caliber team. Add Lundqvist to the mix, and he makes them into a team that can make a legitimate run. They are eerily similar to last year’s Boston Bruins, and constructed in the same way as well. But yet in an attempt to sell papers and page views, many ignore the strength (or lack thereof) of these teams, and focus solely on the fact that Lundqvist hasn’t made it past the second round. Color me confused.
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Every internet sports writer (national media or bloggers) at some point or another will try to spice up a headline or article subject to entice readership. It’s the nature of the beast. One of the most effective tools utilized is the well-crafted narrative. Causing derision between multiple groups of people over any minute detail of the team, focusing on a slow boiling “problem” that will inevitably sink the club, etc. are a driving force behind ad revenue and page views. Most of the time, these stories are harmless enough, the WFAN crowd will read way too much into them and post ignorant garbage all over the comments of multiple national media outlets, and life will move on.
Obviously, here at BSB, we try to cater to the more informed, rational, nuanced fan, so this isn’t an issue here, for the most part. It’s when a narrative grows legs beyond those of the loud-mouth, know-nothing fan, is when I start to become concerned. So, with all of that said, I want to put to rest a pesky little narrative that is getting too many people worked up. There is nothing wrong with Henrik Lundqvist’s glove hand.
Does The King have the quickest glove in all the NHL? Absolutely not. With respect to the rest of his game, his glove hand is one of his weakest links. Which isn’t to say that it’s a weak or ineffective glove hand, at all. In fact, it is an asset. I can only dream of having advanced metrics that could back this claim up statistically, so I’m going to rely on old-fashioned scouting.
Since I have this bizarre passion for this weird position, when watching highlight shows or other games on the hockey package, I tend to focus on the technical errors in execution when goals are scored. So, I’ve seen most of the guys in the league at least in highlight form on a regular basis. From the eye test, Hank’s glove hand is not in the league of elite glove guys like Jonathan Quick, Carey Price or even Braden Holtby (whose glove hand is fantastic), but certainly not as bad as quite a few NHL starters/platoon goalies. (Jonas Gustavsson, Ilya Bryzgalov, and James Reimer come to mind) Read more »
The old book on Henrik Lundqvist was always to shoot high glove side. It was Hank’s biggest weakness, and was exploited a few years ago by Sergei Fedorov when the Capitals completed their comeback in the playoffs after being down 3-1 in the series. Fedorov’s goal was high glove side from a decent angle, and was a shot that a lot of people would have liked to see stopped.
It seems Washington Capitals goalie coach Olaf Kolzig thinks that this might still be his weakness. Chuck Gormley of CSN Washington has the scoop from his interview with Kolzig:
“You look at him and you think, ‘Geez, he plays pretty deep, you should be able to pick his pocket,’” Capitals associate goalie coach Olie Kolzig said. “But his angles are so good and he plays so wide. You’ve got to beat him with a good shot, a good high shot.”
Gormley later notes that two of Saturday’s goals against Lundqvist came on high shots. To be fair, that’s a truthful statement, albeit skewed a bit. Alex Ovechkin’s goal was a case of Hank flubbing the shot. He was there, the puck didn’t beat him. He just had it bounce off of him. In fact. Hank saw the shot the whole way. It was a weak goal (caused by a turnover, but weak nonetheless). Niklas Backstrom’s goal was a blown coverage one-timer from the slot. Yes, that shot was high too.
But if you look at Kolzig’s statement, it doesn’t necessarily say anything. “You’ve got to beat him with a good shot.” Thanks Olie. You have to beat any goaltender in the league with a good shot. Well, that or talking about the universe prior to shooting.
Besides, how many times has Hank been cleanly beat on a high shot? It’s what Kolzig said after that is what the Caps really need to be doing.
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