Report card: Goaltending

They're the two best friends that anyone could have...
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.

The Suit outlined how the Rangers played a slightly more conservative system when Talbot was in net than they did with Hank, but his work was undeniably solid. The work of resident goalie guru, Beniot Allaire was evident from the get-go, reducing a lot of the movement noise in Talbot’s game and moving him a little closer to the goal line. The result was a more calm, confident tender who looks to make the jump to starter (somewhere other than New York, obviously), probably after this season. A+

Henrik Lundqvist– For the first time in his career, Henrik Lundqvist genuinely struggled to start this season. There were reports that his contract situation was hanging over his head, that AV’s new system was exposing him through the lack of shot blocking and other assorted explanations. Hank did later admit the contract situation was a distraction, but my theory is just that his defense was terrible in the first month or so as they got used to the system, and, sometimes, goalies just hit a rough patch. Consistency is hard, and Hank has been doing it better than anyone else for the past decade.

That said, Lundqvist really turned it on in the second half, arriving at his 8th thirty win season in nine years (would have been 9/9, but he had only 24 wins in a lockout shorted season) and a solid 33-24-5 line with a 2.36 GAA and .920 save percentage. His GAA was a little inflated, but his save percentage was right in line with his career norms.

Additionally, he put his team on his back through much of the playoffs, dispelling any notion of not being a true playoff performer. There was a stretch where the media tried to stir up a goalie controversy when Talbot had an extended run amidst Hank’s struggles, but Lundqvist was always the guy. His brutal opening stretch dings him on his final grade, but another solid campaign for the Vezina winning backbone of this organization. B+

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  1. I just hope that Cam can replicate the season he had next year. He was a find that doesn’t come along very often, and we should try to resign him ASAP!!!!!!!!!

    1. I’d be very surprised if Cam didn’t look for a starting job elsewhere after next season. Backing up one of the league’s premier workhorses isn’t exactly glamorous work. With the exception of Terreri, the Devil’s had a devil (see what I did there?) of a time finding a regular back up for Brodeur in his prime…

  2. We saw how important it is to have a fresh Hank in the playoffs. You let Talbot caddy him for another season and give him 20 starts. His game (Talbot) is very quiet and, Game 5 against Montreal aside, he’s been excellent.

    After next season if Talbot continues to be very good, we’ll have one of the best trade chips in hockey.

    1. After next season he’s a UFA, and will have little value as a trade chip.

      1. Yes, unfortunately if they’re going to use him as a trade chip, they’ll have to shop him this summer.

          1. Well he most likely won’t sign an extenion, because as Justin pointed out, if he has a chance to be a starter somewhere else, why would he sign on to be a backup to one of the few workhorse goalies in the NHL?

            Trading him now makes some sense, but then you look at the cap hit (a little over $500k – a bargain) and what the Rangers have available in cap room, and it may not work out.

            That is unless he can be a piece of a trade to bring in a solid roster player. I’m not sure what his market value is after only one good season as a backup.

  3. After getting his team to the Stanley Cup Finals and after willing this team to 5 games with 3 in OT (2 in Double OT) vs a better oppenent. Think that B+ needs to be an A.

    Start of the year just brings it down from A+ to A.

    Elimination game stats this year, Game 7 stats first 2 rounds. Guy could not do anymore.

    1. Hank kinda blew his own bell curve. He was dreadful the first couple weeks of the season, and that probably cost him a(nother) Vezina nomination. The season overall was still a tremendous success for Hank, but just slightly below his usually excellent and consistent self.

      1. It really wasn’t, Justin. Overtime losses are losses. His record was 33-29, with a strong post trade deadline finish. He was under .500 at the trade deadline. Were his backup less successful than he (the usual case), rather than much more, the Rangers are on the outside looking in on deadline day and methinks Sather deals Callahan for the future rather than MSL (perhaps some other dumps as well) – and the Rangers watch the playoffs. Given his salary, tremendous is not the right word. Ignoring the playoffs, I might go for C+.

        Of course, we can’t ignore the playoffs, can we? He wasn’t the 2003 Giguere, but he was awful good.

  4. King with no Ring….. if you’re out there- let this be our final battle.

    Hank’s record this year in playoff elimination games (leading into Game 5 against LA):

    5-0 record
    GAA: 1.00
    Save %: .971

    As far as being there when it counts, this guy was UNREAL. Then in the final game, which we did fall short, it was not because Hank laid an egg. He made 48 -FORTY EIGHT- friggin saves.

    Just to give you some perspective here, he faced 43, 44, 15, 41 and 51 shots respectively in the SCF. He made 40, 39, 12, 40 and 48 saves. We were dominated for long long stretches of the finals and he managed to get us into overtime games 3 times. We were outshot 138 – 95 in those 3 games. A a goalie, if you get your team into OT after a shot discrepancy like that, you should be applauded.

    Earlier this week you were indicating that Hank’s performance was the reason why he still has no ring. I would like you to point me in the direction of the store where you get your drugs…because they must be wonderful.

      1. Yes..the #s there were supposed to be a narrative. 5-0 heading into game 5….which turned into 5-1…which was no fault of Lundqvist as he put up 48 save on 51 shots in the final game of our 2014/14 season.

        If I did the math right, his peripheral stats over the full 6 elimination games faced this post season would be:

        1.33 GAA
        .966 SV %

        His SV % in all 5 games of the SCF was .923 on 194 shots. For comparison, Quick went .932 on 146 shots.

        1. I think Hank was great in the playoffs, but I don’t agree with the focus on elimination games. In games where their opponent was trying to win a third game, Lundqvist was 3-3. The result of this performance was that the only way that the Rangers could win the Stanley Cup was to post an 8-0 record in elimination games. That is nearly impossible and something no goalie can control. Game 7 in Pittsburgh and Game 5 in LA, the Ranger skaters were crushed. How can a goalie win those games? Amazingly, Lundqvist managed to win one of two, but the Rangers were ultimately denied because they were in a bad situation.

          In the SC playoffs, the chips are down every game. Lundqvist was the best postseason Ranger, but his performance was excellent, not legendary.

  5. Hanks equipment change happened as the season started. His pkay down the stretch and in the playoffs deserves an A

    1. I’d have to agree here. Despite him struggling early, doesn’t him returning to form when it mattered and then killing it in the playoffs warrant a higher grade?

      I see it as- when it mattered he delivered and played as solid as he ever has for us.

  6. Lundqvist was not consistent in goal last season. He had some great games but some stinkers too.

    His rebound control needs improvement. He struggled with containing the puck all season. Its no surprize that the winning goal that bounced the Rangers out of the Stanley Cup finals came off a Henk rebound. No “A” for Lundqvist instead the highest paid goalie in the history of hockey gets a B plus.

  7. I get the feeling Talbot might be exposed if he were to play regularly. With that in mind, it would be a good idea to deal him now while his value is high. OTOH, with the cap pressure we’re already facing, it would be nice to have a cheap backup who can play 20 games for the upcoming season.

  8. I’d like to see something like a three year $5 million extension. Gives Talbot some security. The Rangers get a solid backup for not too much money — and if Talbot continues as he did this year, the Rangers can trade him to a team that wants a starter with a very good return.

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