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.
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.
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.
The Norris Trophy finalists, for best defenseman, have been announced. There really shouldn’t be any surprises with this group of Drew Doughty (LA), Mike Green (WAS), and Duncan Keith (CHI). Simply put, Doughty and Keith are two of the best defensemen in the league, and will continue to be amongst the league’s best for many, many years. As for Green, just look at his numbers. Seriously, just look at them. Then remember that the Rangers traded up to get Lauri Korpikoski in the draft, 13 spots ahead of Green.
As more finalists for the major NHL awards get announced, we meet with no surprises for today’s finalists for the Calder trophy, awarded to the top rookie. The three finalists are Colorado’s Matt Duchene, Detroit’s Jimmy Howard, and Buffalo’s Tyler Myers. In my opinion, I think this should go to Jimmy Howard, as he single-handedly got got Detroit into the playoffs after taking over for the struggling Chris Osgood. Of course, us Ranger fans know a lot about Tyler Myers, as he seems to be Joe Micheletti’s favorite player.
Next up in the NHL Awards finalists, the Lady Byng, awarded to “the player adjudged to have exhibited the best type of sportsmanship and gentlemanly conduct combined with a high standard of playing ability.” This year’s finalists are Brad Richards (Dallas), Martin St. Louis (Tampa Bay), and the perennial pick for this award, Pavel Datsyuk (Detroit). Datsyuk has won this award the previous four years in a row, while St. Louis has finished second the previous three years, losing to Datsyuk of course.
The three of these players combined for a total of 22 minor penalties for the entire season. Let that one sink in for a minute or two.
Each day this week, the NHL will be announcing the three finalists for the offseason awards. Yesterday, the three Vezina finalists for best goalie were announced: Ryan Miller (Sabres), Ilya Bryzgalov (Coyotes), and Martin Brodeur (Devils). All three deserved to be nominated, yes Brodeur too, as they each had statistically superior years than the rest of the NHL goalie clan. The award should go to Miller, with Bryzgalov finishing second and Brodeur finishing third. Miller had an absolutely outstanding year, and deserves the award. Bryzgalov also had an outstanding year and carried the defensively-challenged Coyotes to a 100+ point year. Bryzgalov’s numbers are a bit below Miller’s numbers though, so Miller should still win the award.
Today, the Selke finalists for best defensive forward were announced: Jordan Staal (Penguins), Ryan Kesler (Canucks), and Pavel Datsyuk (Red Wings). Datsyuk has won the award the previous two years, but all three are superb two way players and defensive specialists. I personally like Kesler to win, but that’s because I’m biased from the Olympics.
Chris Drury is the Rangers nominee 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. A member of the Rangers has won this award four times since its inception in 1967-68: Jean Ratelle (1970-71), Rod Gilbert (1975-76), Anders Hedberg (1984-85), and Adam Graves (2000-01).
It’s about time for some good news in November. Marian Gaborik was named the NHL’s Third Star of the month for November. Gaborik put together an impressive line for the month, putting up 11-8-19 in just 13 games.
The rest of the Rangers team had a combined 2 goals an 1 assist for November.
Ok, the last part isn’t true. But it sure does feel like it.
Rangers rookie defenseman Michael Del Zotto has been awarded the NHL’s rookie of the month for October. Del Zotto, 19, finished October as the Rangers third leading scorer, putting up a line of 4-8-12 and a +3 in the first 14 games this season, leading all rookies through October (James vanRiemsdyk passed him recently).
Del Zotto has been nothing short of awesome for the Rangers. He adds a new dynamic to the powerplay, and is currently playing as a top 2-3 defenseman on the Rangers. He has been a pleasant surprise. Kudos to him, and very well deserved.