The plan for this lock-out shortened season was to be able to keep Hank in a rhythm, but to also make sure he was well rested for what should be a long playoff run. As we all know, things rarely go according to plan, and the Rangers ended up using Henrik for 43 of the 48 regular season games this year. We projected at the beginning of the campaign that Marty Biron should start about 12 games in order to give Hank the appropriate amount of rest. He played in 5.
This was the result of inconsistent production, down years for key offensive players, a lack of depth, and no training camp when almost half of last year’s forward crop turned over. With a playoff spot requiring almost every regular season game to lock up, playing Biron was a luxury the Blueshirts couldn’t afford. Let’s see how the keepers’ performances grade out this season…
While the workload bestowed upon our fair King was far greater than any had intended, it was not reflected in his performance. After a slow start to the abbreviated season, Hank thrived playing every game after March 30th. His final regular season numbers were solid as ever; winning 24 games with a 2.05 GAA and a .926 sv%, good enough for yet another Vezina nomination.
At 31 years old, Hank is firmly in his prime and his numbers the past few seasons have bore that out. He remains and will continue to remain the backbone of this Ranger team as the window of contention opens fully. However, as we saw early in the year, the lack of consistent ice time and game action hampered Lundqvist in the first part of the season. It took him several weeks to really gain any traction with regard to his consistent high level of play. While the scorching hot end of the season got his numbers to where they needed to be, had Hank been in top form right from the starting gun, the Rangers could have stolen a few of those early season losses.
While I have absolutely no concerns about Hank going forward, the seemingly unprepared nature of his play to start the year dings his final grade a bit. B+
As mentioned before, Marty didn’t really receive enough playing time for a meaningful evaluation of his year. His numbers were good (in an admittedly small sample size) at 2.32 GAA and .917 sv%, and his quality of play passes the eye test. Instead of giving Marty a C+ or B- that doesn’t truly reflect the quality of his play, I’m going to go…INC
At the moment, the Rangers’ goaltending situation is a touchy subject. Hank’s willingness (or unwillingness) to commit long-term has bled over into the search for the next bench boss and potential off-season moves. There will continue to be much hand-wringing until the situation resolves itself and our once and future King is locked up until the end of his career. With regard to Marty, he will have one more full season with the team that the organization will need to use to evaluate it’s goaltending depth. For as long as I can remember, losing Hank for any extended period of time would be a death-knell to the season. Although the Rangers are thin on draft picks this year, drafting a tender is looking more like a necessity than a luxury. Or maybe Slats should start scouring the un-drafted free agent market for some later bloomers, even if Marty stays beyond this coming season. As Hank’s contract situation has shown us, you can never have too much goaltending.