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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As expected, but definitely taking longer than initially planned, Mike Sullivan will be the new Rangers assistant coach for next season. The announcement will be coming today. This should actually qualify as old news, but since the announcement is coming today, it’s worth mentioning.
Also, Blueshirt Banter is reporting that the Avengard Omsk doctors have been cleared in the death of Ranger prospect Alexei Cherepanov, and are not to blame for his tragic death.
The committee said medical experts suspect Cherepanov felt unwell because of his condition but hid the fact from team doctors for fear of being pulled from games.
“Avangard team doctors not only could not have diagnosed Cherepanov with chronic myocarditis while he was living, but could not have even suspected it,” the statement said. It said detailed annual checkups since 2002 revealed no heart or circulation problems.
Remember way back when to the John Tortorella signing? Jim Schoenfeld was named as interim Assistant Coach, but the Rangers were really targeting Mike Sullivan. Well, as per Damian Cristodero and his Lightning Strikes blog:
GM Brian Lawton said he has given associate coach Mike Sullivan permission to speak to other teams. It is well known Sullivan wants to be a head coach, and the Oilers and Wild jobs are open. As for remaining an associate, Lawton said he also gave Sullivan permission “for family reasons” to talk to teams closer to his Massachusetts hometown. It is not far-fetched to think Sullivan will get interest from the Rangers and former Lightning coach John Tortorella.
This was an expected move, as the Rangers, and Torts, will be targeting Sullivan as Schoenfeld’s replacement.
Update 1:45pm: For those of you who follow the the Lohud Rangers Blog, Jane held a contest, basically you guess which three Rangers fit into the stories she told. For those of you who care, that was me who won the contest. Sweet.
Before Jim Schoenfeld was named assistant coach for the remainder of the season, the Rangers attempted to get Mike Sullivan from the Tampa Bay Lightning, Andrew Gross reports.
A little bit on the Rangers’ pursuit of Lightning associate coach Mike Sullivan, who Tortorella initially targeted to be his top assistant. When a deal couldn’t be struck with Tampa Bay, Tortorella turned to Jim Schoenfeld, who was the Coyotes coach when Tortorella was a Phoenix assistant.
Sullivan has a clause in his contract that allows him to pursue any NHL job if he can “better” his situation and the Lightning will not file tampering charges regarding Sullivan. Look for Tortorella and the Rangers to re-visit the Sullivan situation over the summer with a deal that will be better for Sullivan than what he has in Tampa Bay.
This should fill in the questions that people have about the interim title that Jim Schoenfled has. Torts has been very vocal that Schoenfeld is doing him a favor. I woudl expect Sullivan behind the bench with Torts next season.