Archive for Awards

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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Lundqvist, Gaborik, Girardi Join Tortorella In All Star Game

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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.

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Tortorella To Coach At All Star Game

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Per Dan Rosen of, 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.

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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).

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No NYR Awards, But A Few Vote Getters

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Last night at the NHL Award Ceremony, no Rangers were called to the podium to accept an award. It is something we knew was going to happen, as they didn’t have any finalists for the major awards. The biggest question was where Henrik Lundqvist finished in the Vezina voting, as it was a bit of a shock not to see him as a finalist. Lundqvist also received some votes for the Hart trophy. The full results for the Rangers are below.

Henrik Lundqvist – 14th (1 3rd place vote, 2 4th place votes, 8 5th place votes)

Marc Staal – tied for 16th (1 5th place vote)

Lundqvist – 4th (3 1st place votes, 1 2nd place vote, 5 3rd place votes)

Jack Adams:
John Tortorella – 9th (1 1st place vote, 1 2nd place vote, 1 3rd place vote)

Derek Stepan – 13th (2 4th place votes)
Mike Sauer – 17th (1 5th place vote)

Lady Byng:
Lundqvist – tied for 39th (1 4th place vote)

Ryan Callahan – 10th (1 2nd place vote, 5 3rd place votes, 5 4th place votes, 4 5th place votes)
Brandon Prust – 18th (1 2nd place vote, 2 4th place votes, 1 5th place vote
Brian Boyle – tied for 31st (1 2nd place vote)

I was a bit surprised to see that Lundqvist got a vote for the Byng, I kind of laughed when I saw that. Tortorella only finishing 9th in the Jack Adams voting is also a surprise, I thought he would finish higher. Sauer getting a vote just shows that someone watched that kid this year. Everything else is about right, with some people getting votes as recognition of great play this year. Lundqvist missing out on being a finalist for the Vezina is a bit of a slap, but it is what it is.

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There’s a lot of little bits and pieces of news here and there in the Rangers world.  First, there are some Swedish reports saying that Mats Zuccarello fractured his hand while playing in the CT Whale’s playoff game last night (stick-tap to Nick Montemagno of Rangers Tribune for breaking this).  Zuccarello will miss the remainder of the season with the injury.  I asked Brian Ring (covers the CT Whale) about the injury, and while he could not directly answer, he did say that he did not expect Zuccarello to return this season. 

Second, at practice today, Andrew Gross is reporting that the Rangers have new lines (again) heading into Game 5.  Vinny Prospal is dropped to the fourth line, and Wojtek Wolski has been moved up to the third line:

Ruslan Fedotenko-Brandon Dubinsky-Marian Gaborik
Sean Avery-Brian Boyle-Brandon Prust
Wojtek Wolski-Artem Anisimov-Derek Stepan
Vinny Prospal-Erik Christensen-Chris Drury

Finally, Henrik Lundqvist was not named as a finalist for the Vezina trophy this season.  Lundqvist had another great year –which seems to be the norm for him– posting a 36-27-5 record with a 2.28 GAA and a .920 SV%.  Lundqvist also led the league in with 1 1 shutouts.  The three finalists are (likely winner) Tim Thomas of Boston, Pekka Rinne of Nashville, and Roberto Luongo of Vancouver.  Thomas’ numbers dictate that he will win the award, despite his mediocre second half of the season, as he posted a 35-11-9 record with a 2.00 GAA, a .938 SV%, and 9 shutouts.  Rinne had a stellar year as well, posting a 33-22-9 record, with a 2.12 GAA, a .930 SV%, and 6 shutouts.  Luongo had a great year with the President’s Trophy winning Canucks, posting a 38-15-7 record, with a 2.11 GAA and a .928 SV%.  Luongo only had 4 shutouts.

It’s a bit surprising to see that Lundqvist isn’t a finalist for the Vezina, but all three goalies who finished ahead of him had better numbers.  Voters are very number happy, and numbers means awards.  Unfortunately for Lundqvist, his consistency kills him, as the Vezina doesn’t award consistency, just single season dominance.  I would expect the voting to have Thomas winning, with Rinne finishing second and Luongo finishing third.

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Steven A. McDonald Award; Yogan Signs ATO

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Tonight the Rangers give out the Steven A. McDonald Extra Effort Award to the player, as voted on by the fans, to have given the most to the team for this season. There are probably four Rangers who I wouldn’t be surprised to see win the award (Brandon Prust, Ryan Callahan, Brandon Dubinsky, Henrik Lundqvist), but personally I voted for Prust, and think he deserves the award this year. He has clearly gone above and beyond what anyone has expected of him, and his quote of “It’s just pain.” will be quoted by fans for a long time.

Also, in CT Whale news, Brian Ring is reporting that the Whale signed 2010 fourth round pick Andrew Yogan to an amateur try-out. Yogan missed most of this season in the OHL following shoulder surgery, but came back and put up three goals and an assist in the Erie Otters final ten games of the regular season. In the playoffs, Yogan notched two assists in three games. Yogan initially was thought to have first round talent, but dropped after a slow start in the OHL. He has the size and skills to become a decent NHL player, but it all has to come together for him. Yogan is now the second player from the 2010 draft to sign an ATO with the CT Whale, with first round pick Dylan McIlrath signing one yesterday.

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Lundqvist, Staal Selected to All-Star Team; Stepan For Rookie Skills

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The NHL today announced the 2011 All-Star Game rosters and two New York Rangers were selected for the game and one for the rookie skill competition.  Defenseman Marc Staal and goalie Henrik Lundqvist were named to the game itself and center Derek Stepan was among 12 rookies selected.

The selection for Staal is the first for the game itself even though he has been a part of all-star weekend before in the NHL Young Guns game which no longer exists.  For Lundqvist this will be his second selection to the team after playing in the most recent game in 2009.  All three of these Rangers were well deserving of going to the game and will represent the team well in Raleigh.

Staal following a slow start has been phenomenal this season with six goals and 11 assists, while being a top shutdown defender and logging more and more minutes as the season has gone along and now ranking eighth in the league at a ridiculous 25:29 a game.

For Lundqvist, he also had an up and down beginning to the season but his overall numbers still look stellar at 18-12-3 with a 2.33 goals-against average and a .923 save percentage. Those numbers rank Lundqvist tied for sixth in wins, tied for ninth in goals against average, and eight in save percentage.

Stepan is second on the team with 24 points (12 goals, 12 assists) in 43 games and ranks him third in goals and points, and eighth in assists among rookies which makes him a very viable threat for the Calder come year end.

I do not want to take away from the three Rangers who are going to the game, but the obvious candidate for snub from the Rangers is Brandon Dubinsky.  I will not call out any names in particular that based on play and importance to his team this season Dubinsky should have been selected over but his numbers of 16-20-36 rank him tied for 29th in the league and he certainly should have been selected.

Overall the weekend is a popularity contest that concludes with a meaningless game that I would much rather players like Staal and Lundqvist get the rest instead of playing in, but I congratulate them on their deserved selections, look forward to Stepan winning the skills competition and hopefully seeing a good game.

Oh and if you did not know by the end of the weekend you might hear Marc and Eric Staal are actually brothers.

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Jack Adams Finalists

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The finalists for the Jack Adams Trophy for the “NHL coach adjudged to have contributed the most to his team’s success” have been announced. These finalists really shouldn’t surprise anyone, as Dave Tippet (PHO), Joe Sacco (COL), and Barry Trotz (NSH) are the three finalists for this year’s award. Tippet’s Coyotes surprised everyone this season, finishing with a record of 50-25-7, good for the #4 seed in the West. Sacco’s Avalanche also exceeded everyone’s expectations just by making the playoffs after finishing in the cellar last season. The Avs qualified as the #8 seed, with a record of 43-30-9. Trotz’s Predators finished third in one of the toughest divisions in hockey (Central), with a 47-29-6 record. It is going to be a close battle between Sacco and Tippet, who led their respective teams to a 25 point increase from the 2008-2009 season.

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Masterton Finalists, Lemaire Retires

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The finalists for the Bill Masterton trophy, which is awarded annually to the National Hockey League player who best exemplifies the qualities of perseverance, sportsmanship, and dedication to ice hockey, have been announced. Jose Theodore (WSH), who played this season in the wake of his infant’s son tragic death, Kurtis Foster (TB), who returned to the game over a year after cracking his left femur, and former Ranger Jed Ortmeyer (SJ), who plays every day with a very dangerous blood disorder that almost caused him to retire twice. Chris Drury, who is not a finalist, was the Rangers nominee.

In other news, Devils head coach Jacques Lemaire has announced his retirement. In 1,213 career games, Lemaire had a record of 588-441-184 with Montreal, New Jersey, and Minnesota. Lemaire is also 61-56 in the playoffs, winning a Stanley Cup in 1994-1995.

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