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If you read some of the papers this morning, then there is quite a bit going on about a goalie controversy here in New York. It was solidified even more when coach Alain Vigneault announced that Cam Talbot is the starter for tonight’s game against Winnipeg.
Talbot has been phenomenal in his first seven starts, and could push himself into the Calder conversation if his play continues. (That’s just a bad mistake on my part. Talbot is not eligible for the Calder, he is too old). Henrik Lundqvist is still an All-World goaltender, but he appears to be mortal this season. AV also noted that Hank is still the team’s #1 goaltender.
But let’s entertain this for a moment. Hank is struggling –somewhat– but his play recently has been more on par with what we’ve expected. Over his career Hank is a .920 SV% guy, and is currently at .917 SV%. That includes the San Jose and Anaheim games. Statistically he is on par with last season. So what’s the issue?
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A week after being waived and going unclaimed, goaltender Martin Biron has announced his retirement from the NHL after 16 seasons. Biron was waived by the Rangers after a subpar performance in St. Louis, as the Rangers appeared to be ready to move on from the goalie who was the first serviceable and reliable backup for Henrik Lundqvist since Kevin Weekes.
For his career, Biron went 288-248-27 with Buffalo, Philadelphia, the Islanders, and the Rangers with a 2.56 GAA and a .910 SV%. With his retirement, the full $1.3 million salary will come off the books. Previously, only $925,000 came off the books as a part of the Wade Redden rule.
Biron will have a future in this league, hopefully as a coach. He was instrumental in scouting shootouts for the Rangers, and his advice probably gave the club an extra couple of shootout wins.
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As we all know by now, the Rangers have gotten off to a slow start this season. One of the more surprising factors in Blueshirt’s early malaise was the rather pedestrian play of all-world goaltender Henrik Lundqvist. It wasn’t necessarily that he was playing outright badly, just far below the lofty expectations that the fan base has for #30. After posting his first shutout of the year in Washington on Wednesday night, the fan base was able to relax a bit about the form of our number-one keeper.
Buried in a quality post-game piece by Pat Leonard of the Daily News, Hank was quoted as making a small but significant adjustment to his game for the tilt in Washington: he took an extra step out from the goal line for positioning purposes. Hank was quoted on the subject as follows:
“It was more on face-offs I took a step out. My positioning on the ‘D’ shots was a little bit better. A couple times in the early games I got caught deep in my net. That’s the way I play, but there’s been a lot of deflections, (so) you want to come out a little bit more, and today it worked for me.”
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Lundqvist: must do better. (Bennett/Getty)
Henrik Lundqvist seems to have forgotten how to control rebounds, and his decision making around the net has been abysmal. Martin Biron can’t even stop a shot from the blueline. Every aspect of the Rangers (Brad Richards aside) has been awful to start the year, but it has to start and end in net, and the Rangers are nowhere near good enough in goal so far. It’s been that bad that maybe Glen Sather is reducing his next contract offer to Henrik Lundqvist as we speak.
To be fair, the Rangers defense has been almost as bad; coverage has been terrible, positioning and decision making even worse, and the Rangers goaltending tandem have had opposing players open in front and have often faced far too high a quality of shot. That said, it comes back to your goaltender giving you a chance and neither goalie has done that so far.
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Best case: Johnson is an adequate depth defender and is significantly better than Stu Bickel in spot duty.
Worst case: Johnson is no better than Bickel and the Rangers are back where they were last year if top-six blueliners get hurt.
Best case: Stralman continues to be an unsung hero for the Blueshirts and finally earns the attention he deserves with a standout campaign, including some gaudy power play numbers.
Worst case: Stralman’s hold on the #6 job loosens and Justin Falk pushes him for playing time. Read more »
Henrik Lunqdvist’s next deal – pivotal?
When Sidney Crosby signed his last contract with the Pittsburgh Penguins he did so without huge fanfare, while signing for a large amount of money over a significant period of time. Some wondered why the Penguins took the risk given Crosby’s recent history but the fact remained, the Penguins locked up arguably the best center in hockey.
While signing on the dotted line, Crosby left dollars on the table. Whether it would have been with Pittsburgh or elsewhere Crosby could have named his price to all 30 NHL clubs (yes Crosby haters, ALL 30) and each team would have begged him to sign. In a financial world where Crosby could have signed for an annual cap hit of $12.86m (20% of the current cap) he signed for a cap hit of 8.7m. Not chump change for sure but clearly money ‘given up’.
When Crosby signed on the dotted line he clearly cashed in (a twelve year extension worth an 8.7m cap hit is clearly ‘cashing in’) but he also made sure the club were given some financial wiggle room. He notably didn’t take the maximum contract on offer and in doing so set the tone for others within the franchise to perhaps do the same.
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Since the emergence of Henrik Lundqvist during the 2005-2006 season, many Ranger fans haven’t put much thought into the future between the pipes. Fast forward eight years later, Hank is still only 31 years-old and likely to sign a 7-8 year extension within the next 12 months. The stability The King provides has masked (no pun intended?) a rather glaring organization weakness: depth in goal.
Although its only been two preseason games, Cam Talbot has been impressive the first long-look of his career. Although the numbers are nothing to write home about (3.21 GAA, .875 Sv%), he has looked closer to NHL-ready than anything we’ve seen from the Rangers’ goaltending prospects in some time. This has prompted a discussion about Marty Biron’s future and contemplating a world where we can off-set some of Hank’s raise with a cheap backup. In this spirit of this curiosity, I thought I’d take a closer look at Mr. Talbot’s background and overall game.
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Biron is at the center of an unexpected goalie competition.
When August turned to September, the one position that had zero uncertainty was goaltender. Henrik Lundqvist is the starter, and Martin Biron was supposed to be the backup. A wrench was thrown into that plan when Biron missed the first two days of camp with a personal issue, and the Rangers invited former Devil Johan Hedberg to camp on a professional tryout. Now, all signs point to a goaltender competition, as Biron will need to outplay Hedberg to win his spot as the backup.
It was a rather curious move, bringing in Hedberg when Biron wasn’t expected to miss much time. Biron has been one of the most consistent backups in the league since joining the Rangers three years ago. Biron played well in his first two-year contract (signed in 2010), earning himself another two-year deal that expires after this season. Marty has been consistently solid in net, and remains one of the best backups in the league. Of course, he does carry a $1.3 million cap hit, pretty high for a backup.
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Welcome to the final installment of the annual Top 30. It’s been a fun ride over the long summer months, but with hockey season upon us, let’s take a gander at the Top 10. In case you missed it, here are parts one and two. Before we get to the best tenders in the land, let’s take a look at the final two tenders who were relieved from their Top 30 duties of a year ago…
Miikka Kiprusoff- Retired: The reason Kipper is no longer on the list is pretty obvious: he chose to retire at the end of last season, even vetoing a trade to the Maple Leafs prior to calling it quits. The Finnish keeper was #15 on the list last season, and surely would have made another appearance had he not decided to hang ‘em up.
Nikolai Khabibulin- Chicago Blackhawks: The Bulin Wall checked in at #26 last season, when he was getting fairly consistent reps in Edmonton. However, since he decided to take on the role of veteran backup behind the newly extended Corey Crawford, he is sure to see his playing time significantly reduced. While I believe Khabby is still a solid keeper, the role change really forced my hand.
With that out of the way, ladies and gentlemen, rankings 10-1… Read more »
The other day, I was reading one of my favorite goalie-related publications, InGoal Magazine. There was a fantastic article about some NHL tendys giving their thoughts on the new equipment sizing and some of the difficulties the changes pose. After reading the article and seeing some of the drastic reductions in size, I started thinking about the involvement of the Union and the type of representation that goalies are receiving during this type of transition.
There has been talk of allowing goalies up until the Olympic break to comply with the new rules, and further talk of revisiting the measurements in the off-season (not to see if they are effective, mind you, but to take another crack at reductions). After examining all the information from the article and investigating further into the compromise made with regard to the reduction formula, I arrived at the conclusion that goalies are not being advocated for properly in the new-NHL. Read more »