Archive for Awards

Apr
25

Lundqvist a Vezina finalist

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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:

W GAA SV% SO
Lundqvist

39

1.97

0.930

8

Quick

35

1.95

0.929

10

Rinne

43

2.39

0.923

5

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.

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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.

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Apr
07

Vezina comparison: Quick vs. Lundqvist

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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).

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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.

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Jan
29

2012 All Star Game Thread

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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:

Team Alfredsson:
Michalek – Spezza – Alfredsson
Couture – Giroux – Stamkos
Sedin – Sedin – Hartnell
Neal – Tavares – Pominville

Karlsson – Letang
Yandle – Weber
Edler – Girardi

Lundqvist – Quick – Elliott

Team Chara:
Gaborik – Datsyuk – Hossa
Perry – Malkin – Iginla
Lupul – Seguin – Kessel
Benn – Kane – Eberle

Chara – Campbell
Phaneuf – Wideman
Suter – Timonen

Howard – Price – Thomas

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Jan
28

NHL Skills Competition Participants

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The NHL has announced the participants of the NHL Skills Competition, to take place tonight. The four Rangers participating will be in six events:

Marian Gaborik

  • Skills Challenge Relay
  • Elimination Shootout

Dan Girardi

  • Shooting Accuracy (passer)

Carl Hagelin

  • Fastest Skater (side note: he only loses if he blows a tire)
  • Elimination Shootout

Henrik Lundqvist

  • Elimination Shootout

The remaining contest listings can be found here.

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Jan
25

Chad Johnson Returned To AHL, Hagelin To Play In Rookie Game

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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.

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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.

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