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.
As expected, goaltender Chad Johnson was returned to the AHL immediately following last night’s 3-0 victory over the Winnipeg Jets. Johnson was called up to serve as the backup to Henrik Lundqvist. Martin Biron was supposed to start the game, but was scratched with the flu. With no games for the next week, it is likely that Biron will be healthy enough for action when games resume.
In other news, per Josh Rimer, Carl Hagelin is expected to be named to the Rookie Game as an injury replacement. Good to see the kid get rewarded for his play. He has
succeeded exceeded everyone’s expectations, even those who watched him reguarly at Michigan.
Any one that saw highlights (or the full game) in Boston would have seen Dan Girardi play a brilliant game all-round. It’s not a shock anymore, however, as Girardi makes his way through a brilliant season individually. However, can a defensive defenseman really garner Norris Trophy consideration? Is Girardi a sexy enough brand name, are the points missing from the resume?
If All Star voting was any indication of Girardi’s league wide respect then it doesn’t bode well for the rock on the Rangers blue line but if the numbers get stripped down, the whole picture looked at and the realisation of just how essential Girardi has been to the Rangers is seen, then Girardi deserves real consideration.
Look beyond the 27+ minutes per game that Girardi gets. Look past the 30 point season that he is on course for (which compared to the usual Norris candidates is a paltry sum). Forget about Girardi being a league leader in both hits and blocked shots. However put it all together and you have a player that excels in almost everything he turns his hand to. Girardi is a good decision maker, is constantly up against the league’s best offensive stars (and usually wins) and yet he still manages to be a legitimate option offensively.
What perhaps goes unnoticed about Girardi is the unreal 8 penalty minutes he has been assessed this season. When you play a physical game like he does and play the minutes he does then 8 penalty minutes is an astounding figure. It is testament to Girardi’s positioning, the aforementioned decision making and technique that he is such a fair player. Lady Byng anyone?
When all is said and done the Norris trophy will be decided between the usual candidates like Shea Weber, Zdeno Chara and Nicklas Lidstrom but let’s hope Girardi gets a mention. A player like Girardi is rarely in the spotlight around the league, yet is one of the key reasons the Rangers are one of the best teams in the NHL this season despite injuries mounting and travel being a burden. Here’s hoping the underappreciated get some love.
The NHL announced the rest of the rosters for the 2012 All Star Game, and joining John Tortorella for the festivities over the January 28-29 weekend will be Henrik Lundqvist, Marian Gaborik, and Dan Girardi. Lundqvist and Gaborik were the shoe-ins, with Gaborik among the league leaders in scoring (23-11-34 in 40 GP) and Lundqvist leading the Vezina race (1.85 GAA, .940 SV%, 3 SO).
That brings us to Girardi, who garnered a lot of attention when Tortorella ripped the fan ballot, as Girardi’s name was not on the ballot initially. The fan write-in campaign fell short, but never fear, the selection process was fair and Girardi was elected to the All Star Game, and deservedly so. Girardi does not have the flashy numbers, nor does he have the big game physical presence that others bring.
No, instead Girardi led the young Rangers blue line that was without Marc Staal and Mike Sauer for extended periods. Girardi became the rock on the blue line that the Rangers needed during that time period, and helped lead them to an NHL best 27-9-4 record through the first half of the season.
Girardi’s selection means that Michael Del Zotto, having an All Star caliber season himself, was left off the roster. It’s tough to call Del Zotto’s omission a snub, considering the rest of the All Star’s selected.
Overall, the selection process was pretty fair when looking at the rosters, but there will always be people that have issues with it.
Per Dan Rosen of NHL.com, Rangers coach John Tortorella has clinched his spot to coach in the All Star Game. Tortorella clinched his spot with last night’s win over the Panthers, ensuring that the Rangers will have at least the second best record in the Eastern Conference. The best record may wind up belonging to the Boston Bruins, but Claude Julien is already pre-selected to coach because his Bruins won the Stanley Cup last year.
Essentially, the coaching staff is comprised of last year’s Cup winner (Julien and his staff), and the coach of the team with the best record in both conferences(either Julien or Tortorella from the East, and the coach from the West). Julien and his staff will have one team, Tortorella and the soon-to-be-determined Western Conference coach will lead the other team.
Tortorella is the first Ranger to be certain of an All Star Game appearance. It is likely that Henrik Lundqvist and Marian Gaborik will join him. Dan Girardi and Michael Del Zotto have a chance as well.
When the All Star ballots for this year were released, there were four Rangers on the ballot: Henrik Lundqvist, Marian Gaborik, Brad Richards, and Marc Staal. Lundqvist, Richards, and Gaborik were expected to be on the ballot, but Staal hasn’t played a single game this year. It is just another flaw in the All Star balloting, as the Rangers best defenseman thus far, Dan Girardi, is not on the ballot. That’s where the write-ins come in handy.
Kevin DeLury of The New York Rangers blog has started a write-in campaign for Girardi, who surely deserves All Star considerations this year. Girardi is fifth on the team in scoring (2-5-7), tops in ice time (pushing 30 minutes a game), gets the most difficult defensive assignments, is second on the team in hits (30), leads the team in blocked shots (37), and is fifth on the team in +/- (+5). Simply put, Dan Girardi is the most important Ranger on this team who does not play goalie.
Girardi deserves to be in the All Star Game, case closed. You can either go to the voting website here or text Girardi’s name to 81812 (standard rates apply).