They’re the two best friends that anyone could have…
This was kind of a strange year for Ranger goaltending. We saw Martin Biron retire after only seven games, Henrik Lundqvist really struggle for the first time in his career and the relatively untested Cam Talbot come up and dominate. Let’s try and sort it out and get some grades…
Cam Talbot- Talbot came up after the previously mentioned retirement of Martin Biron and allowed the world to see that he belongs in The Show. In 21 games and 19 starts, Talbot put up a 12-6-1 line with a 1.64 GAA and a .941 save percentage. No matter how you slice it, this was a phenomenal year from a backup that could easily be viewed as a best case scenario.
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On Wednesday evening, the Rangers will play their first Stanley Cup Final game since 1994. Twenty years worth of anticipation, a big-market, celebrity-fueled war between New York City and Los Angeles. And, at the center of it all, a marquee goaltending matchup for the ages. Since I have done my Preseason Top 30 Goaltenders list, Henrik Lundqvist and Jonathan Quick have ranked number one and two, respectively.
Most people associate Quick’s playoff pedigree with his 2012 Cup/Conn Smythe winning performance. As a general rule, his playoff performances have been stellar, amassing a 2.27 GAA and .922 save percentage over five playoff seasons (although it is slightly skewed because Quick played almost 30% of his playoff appearances during 2012). This year, however, Quick has been rather pedestrian (we’ll get there in a minute). In fact, there are a number of pundits who are calling a clear goaltending advantage to New York. Let’s break down Quick’s style and figure out why that is.
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After dispatching the Penguins and Bruins, respectively, the Rangers and Montreal Canadiens will meet in the Eastern Conference Finals. Each team will be looking for their first Stanley Cup championship since the early 90’s, and will face one another for the first time since 1996. The two teams are actually relatively similar. They rely on speed, depth, balance and will lean heavily on their world-class goaltenders.
Montreal’s, as well as know, is Carey Price. Price has had quite the season thus far, leading a Canadiens squad with relatively low expectations to a 100 point season, a Conference Finals birth, and an Olympic Gold Medal in Sochi. He is going to be a formidable task for the Blueshirts if they plan to chase the ultimate prize. Let’s see how his game stacks up…
Format is the same as always; Stance, Crease Movement/Depth, Equipment, Puck Handling and Exploitable Weaknesses. Read more »
With his win over Ottawa on Tuesday night, Henrik Lundqvist passed Mike Richter for the Rangers’ all-time wins record. His 302nd career victory came on the heels of back-to-back disappointing losses, so this achievement was somewhat marginalized. It’s very difficult to take stock of history while you are in the middle of a somewhat frustrating playoff race.
Aside from the Rangers’ franchise record, Henrik moved into a tie with Turk Broda for 26th on the NHL all-time wins list. Just for some context, he is only one win behind Olaf Kolzig, and two behind Billy Smith before some separation sets in. In only eight-plus seasons, Hank has put himself in the discussion with current or projected hall of famers. This got me thinking about his overall career trajectory.
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A little over a week ago, one of my go-to publications, InGoal Magazine, released an interesting article, entitled GSAA: An Essential Statistic for Evaluating Goaltenders, touting a new advanced metric for analyzing goaltending, called GSAA (Goals Saved Above Average). The author, Greg Balloch, does a nice job of breaking down the specific methodology that goes into determining how many goals a goaltender saves above the league-average. Here is Greg’s explanation of the mechanics from the article:
You take the league’s average save percentage and apply it to the amount of shots a particular goalie has faced. You get a number of goals that the average goalie in that league would have surrendered if they faced the same number of shots as the goaltender in question. That number gets compared to the number of goals surrendered by that goaltender, and a plus/minus is created. If a goalie is in the positive, that is how many goals they have saved compared to a league-average goalie. If they are in the negative, then it is safe to assume that they are performing worse than how a league-average goaltender would perform in the same situation.
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This year’s Olympic competition sports a pool of goaltenders amongst the strongest we have seen since the NHL began participating in the games. The United States and Finland are especially deep, each with three goaltenders that could easily start for most nations. Although the tournament has already gotten underway, and we have seen some solid (Lundqvist, Hiller) performances and some sketchy (Rask, Halak) ones, let’s take a look at what each county’s best stopper has to offer. I realize there are going to be some changes made between the pipes as the tournament goes along and most teams have several starting caliber tendys, but I’m going to break down the ones who should be starting based on ability level and previous performance.
United States- Jonathan Quick
Why not start with the Red, White and Blue? Despite this being a Rangers’ blog, I have committed a significant amount of digital ink to the King’s world class netminder. Ryan Miller was dynamite in 2010 and deserves some ice in Sochi, but this is Quick’s team. The Americans will only go as far as he can carry them, and judging from some of his playoff performances, that could include the podium to accept the gold medal. His athleticism in this tournament is rivaled only by (ironically enough) the two Russian netminders. However, his technical skills, vision and positioning are lightyears ahead of the hosts. Read more »
Any excuse to show the Pinstripe pads.
Despite being Ben Scrivens’d (again) last night, the Rangers have been on quite a roll for past six weeks or so. Most will point to the terrible 5-3 loss to the Islanders on December 20th as the game that proved to be a turning point for the season. At that time, the Rangers were struggling to break .500, playing downright terrible defense, and saw fans calling for AV’s head. But most vexing was the play of Henrik Lundqvist.
Since that dark time, the Rangers have played much better hockey. The team went on 15-6-1 stretch of dominance, the system seems to have sunk in for the players in a meaningful way and the play of their King greatly improved. During the beginning of the season, we were all left scratching our heads at how the Henrik could look so mortal after another Vezina nominated (half) season. Some pointed to the new equipment restrictions, I was curious about his new super-lightweight Bauer pads, but he seems to have put it all to rest.
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This was literally the only picture I could find of Henrik handling a puck. I think this was ’06.
The request for this post came from reader Max Steuer. Keep those suggestions coming! If you have a post idea you’d like one of us to run with, make sure to reach out to your desired author via email or twitter.
Throughout Henrik Lundqvist’s stellar career to date, one of the common detractions from his game has always been his inability to play the puck effectively. The past couple years have highlighted this weakness in his game, as Marty Biron, and now, Cam Talbot have been effective and capable puck handlers. This skill has been somewhat anecdotal (though, I have always included it in my style analyses) throughout the evolution of goalie development.
It’s nearly impossible to quantify in any meaningful way, and was always viewed as a bonus when a goaltender was blessed with strong stick skills. After a quick Google search for the purposes of researching this post, this was all but confirmed. Many instructors and YouTube aficionados have drills and technique suggestions and the like, but no one out there seems to have a handle on how to quantify it.
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United in brutal paint jobs.
So far, the crew here at BSB has covered the GM, Coach, defense and bottom six forwards in our mid-season grades series. Today, we touch on something of a sore subject: the goaltending. Even though Marty Biron played in several regular season games, he immediately retired and gave way to Cam Talbot. For this reason, I’m not going to grade Marty. However, he would get a solid A- for his broadcasting prowess.
Much digital ink has been spilled in this space concerning the play of our now $59.5 million goaltender. In contrast to the rest of his career, this season has been marred by inconsistency and erratic play. All the speculation about his contract situation/future only compounded the problem, and was worsened by the eventual windfall he did receive.
From a statistical standpoint, the first half of the season hasn’t been a complete disaster. Hank is currently sporting a 2.70 GAA and a .908 Save %. As most of our loyal readers can attest, I am not a big fan of either of these statistical measures as accurate indicators of goaltending ability, but until a truly reliable advanced metric is developed, it’s all we got. Read more »
Weight too far forward.
On December 19th, Bauer Hockey held a media event to unveil a new line of both player and goalie equipment that they claimed was going to be a “game changer”. Their basic approach was to charge their research and product design engineers in St-Jérôme, Québec to change the way hockey players could perform on the ice. The concept was made analogous to the automotive industry: remove cost considerations, aesthetic inconsistencies from the status quo, all preconceived notions about what was possible within the industry, and show us the future. A concept car. The pressure of the normal product to market cycle was taken out of the picture and the goal was pure innovation. The OD1N line was born.
Three core products came out of this endeavor: a body suit, a player skate and goalie pads. Bauer’s website has the keynote from the event if you are interested in checking out the specs on the skate and the body suit, but for the purposes of this post, we are going to focus on the goalie pad, and its primary endorser, Henrik Lundqvist.
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