Sunday, May 13, 2007

Ranger Report Card

It is always difficult to grade performances of players that you have rooted for so strongly and avidly during the season. You may boo a player on one shift and the next shift finds you cheering wildly for him. Let's face another thing. Asking a player to put it on the line for every game and performing at his very best every game is sometimes physically and emotionally impossible. I will say one thing for this team, there were few nights, if any, where you could say this team mailed it in. This year I attended 33 regular home games plus 5 playoff games. I caught about 38 road TV games. Plus I saw all seven playoff road games. Also there is a difference in the reviewer. At 76 are you more forgiven, less critical? I don't think so, so let's give it a stab.

A+
Henrik Lundqvist — Without Lundqvist there are no Ranger playoffs. From Christmas on Lundqvist was the best goalie in the NHL. He carried the Rangers down the stretch and was magnificent in the playoffs. He finished the season with a 2.34 GAA and a save % of .917. The numbers in the playoffs were better with a 2.07 GAA and a save % of .924. He was 8-4 in the shootouts with a 8-4 record and a save % of .820. Only Martin Brodeur, 10-6, faced more shots than Lundqvist in the shootouts, 60, to Lundqvist's 50, and Brodeur's save % was .667.

Jaromir Jagr — Jagr was a shell of himself until the All-Star break. Skipping the classic he came back as the old war horse and finished the season with 30-66-96, seven — Playing with an aching shoulder that had been operated on in pre-season, JagrPPG and five game winners. In the playoffs he was second to Nylander in scoring with 5-6-11 in ten games. He scored 30 goals and has fifteen consecutive seasons, in his sixteen years as a NHLer, with 30 goals or more. This ties Mike Gartner's record of fifteen straight years of 30+ goals. Mike scored 12 goals for Toronto in 19994-95 and then came back for two more plus 30 goals to give him seventeen years of 30+ goals. Jagr will continue to be a 30+ goal scorer for as long as he plays.
A
Michael Nylander — (UFA) Had career highs in goals, 26, assists, 57, and points, 83. Led the team in scoring in the playoffs with 6-7-13 in ten games with 2 PPG and 2 GWG. In the regular season he had 14 PPG and 4 game winners. Still too much lateral and figure eight skating for me but picked up his shot production especially in the playoffs. Rangers should resign him.

Brendan Shanahan — (UFA) Brought strong leadership and professionalism to the team. Sometimes acted like he was the Captain. His challenging of goon Brashear to a fight forever enshrined him in the hearts of Ranger fans. Missed out on his 13th season of 30+ goals but racked up 29-33-62 in 67 games. His mid ice collision with Mike Knuble could have been career ending but came back and was a force in the playoffs. Led the team, with Cullen, with 3 shorthanded goals. Had 5 goals and 2 assists in 10 playoff games. A definite keeper.

Martin Straka — Has already been signed by the Rangers and bothered in the second half by shoulder problems. Still managed 29 goals, his second highest total of his career. His numbers were 29-41-70. He had 35 goals with Pittsburgh in 1998-99. Had 8 PPGs and 6 game winning goals. Fluctuated between the first and second lines all year and was on the point on the PP where he was not always effective. As versatile a player the Rangers have, Straka was also a very effective penalty killer.
B+
Sean Avery — (RFA) — In 29 games with the Rangers Avery was 8-12-20 and brought toughness and swagger to a team desperately in need of both. In ten playoff games he was 1-4-5 and was strong in the Atlanta series and ineffective against Buffalo. He was in the middle of most scrums and was always the first player on the ice to jump to a teammates defense. His value to the Rangers doesn't reflect itself in the box score but in his mere presence. A great trade deadline acquisition. Definitely a keeper.
B
Michal Rozsival — Had a career year in goals, 10, assists, 30, and points 40, however he still misplays and loses the puck too often and doesn't shoot enough. Those two points can be deadly especially when he is playing the point, which he does most of the time. His shot from the point is a good one and it's a shame he doesn't use it more often. He scored 7 PPG and two game winners. Picking that up will get him more points and move him up the rating list. He was more aggressive in the playoffs where he was 3-4-7 in ten games and had two PPG and one game winner, the OT game in the Garden.

Fedor Tyutin — Missed sixteen games due to a knee injury and played very well on his return. On the season he was 2-12-14 with one PPG and one shorthanded goal. So all his goals were special. Could use his body more but his positional play has improved. Only 23 years old he should have a great Ranger career, barring injuries.

Daniel Girardi — Playing in only 34 games this 23 year old turned into the most reliable Ranger defenseman as the season progressed. No flash, little dash he kept it simple and picked up his hitting game, especially in the playoffs. Could be a long run as a Ranger for this excellent defenseman.

Paul Mara — (RFA) —When first traded for Aaron Ward the deal looked like a wash. However, he became a strong positional player, though a bit slow afoot. In 19 games with the Rangers he was 2-3-5 but in the playoffs he was 2-2-4 in ten games and both goals were scored on the power play. Needs to get more power play ice time. Was a bit more physical in the playoffs. A keeper.
B-
Ryan Callahan — This 22 year old rookie was brought up at the end of the season and was 4-2-6 in 14 games with one game winner. Loves to skate, hit and shoot and came in with 2-1-3 in ten playoff games. Needs more important type ice time and will become a fan favorite with more ice time.

Thomas Pock — Signed for at least two more years. Vastly underplayed and appeared in only 44 games during the season and was 4-4-8. In four playoff games he had three assists. Benched against Buffalo in one of the dumbest coaching moves of the playoffs. Brings speed, offense and a good shot to a defense corp that desperately needs all three. I am confused why he signed with the Rangers and did not go on the open market as a UFA. Won't get much more ice time next year with this coaching staff.
C
Matt Cullen — Big disappointment mostly due to being misplayed in wrong positions by coaching staff. He is not a second line center and spent a good portion of the year at that position. An excellent point man on the power play, who loves to shoot the puck, he got very little ice time there. He was 16-25-41 in 80 games with two power play goals, and was 1-3-4 in the playoffs with the one goal being the game winner, the scorcher from the blue line against Atlanta. Would probably be better at the wing instead of center.

Petr Prucha — Was 22-18-40 in 79 games, but seemed to lack the fire of the previous year. Perhaps it was the different lines the coaching staff had him playing with. How do you put a 30 goal scorer from the previous year on the fourth line or on the bench (3 games)? Was invisible in the playoff with a single assist in ten playoff games. Totally under appreciated by coaching staff and management who reportedly dangled him as trade bait.

Blair Bettts — While still strong on penalty kills, blocked shots and defensively overall he was 9-4-13 and played in all 82 games. He was completely shutout in ten playoff games. Must pick up his offensive game to make the fourth line at least a minimal threat to score. The Rangers need a fourth line scoring threat to approach the Buffalo model of four scoring lines. Betts has to do that and the good news is he is only 27 years old.

Marcel Hossa — The good news is he is only 26 years old and the bad news is there don't seem to be any strong upside potential. In 64 games he was 10-8-18 with 3 power play goals and two game winners. See what can happen when they keep giving you ice time with Jaromir Jagr. In ten playoff games he was 2-2-4. These stats were all career highs in an NHL career that is all of 187 games in 4 seasons. Good trade bait.
C-
Jed Ortmeyer — (UFA) — God bless him, we all love his spirited, aggressive play. Came back from an embolism that nearly ended his career and was given The Steven McDonald Award for the second time in the last three years. Offensively deficient, was 2-9-11 in 41 regular season games and had zero points in 9 playoff games. With Hollweg, Orr and Betts all signed Rangers may decide not to resign Ortmeyer and the Rangers would lose a bit of their soul.

Ryan Hollweg — The hit man is already signed for 2007-08 and must improve on his offensive skills and output. Had only one goal and two assists in 78 regular season games. He only played in two playoff games and had no points. Could be used as trade bait for a team needing a hitter.

Colton Orr — Another role player that is signed for next year. He was 2-1-3 in 53 regular season games and was shutout in four playoff games. One of the highlights of the year was his knockout of the Flyers Todd Fedoruk at the Garden. It made up for some of the indignities that the Flyers imposed on the Rangers in a previous game. Too little ice time has made it difficult for Orr to develop into a more complete player. Coach only plays him when there is a tough guy on the other team.

Brad Isbister — (UFA) — Played in only 9 games and was 1-4-5 and was shutout in four playoff games. Curious call up from Hartford when guys like Dubinsky and Dawes were available. In fact Dawes call up for last game against Buffalo was even more curious. But what can you expect from this coaching/management team? Should not be signed.

Marek Malik — Close call on whether to give him a D. Forget the plus 32 in the regular season and the plus 6 in the playoffs. His massive giveaway in game two at Buffalo enabled the Sabres to tie the game and eventually win it. He had give aways all season long that were mostly negated by Lundqvist's goaltending. In 69 regular season games he was 2-19-21 and 1-3-4 in ten playoff games. A media and coaching favorite who has outlived his usefulness in New York use his plus/minus stats as a plus to trade him as he is getting close to being booed out of the Garden.
D
Karel Rachunek — (RFA) — He was 6-20-26 in the regular season with 4 PPGs, 3 game winners and a shorthanded goal so why does the Pundit give him a D? In 6 playoff games he had 4 assists and was constantly caught out of position. He was the main culprit on Buffao's game winner in game two. He came off the injured list to replace Thomas Pock on defense against Buffalo. Why? A winning combination was broken up. Why? Don't bring him back.

ICINGS: Coaching, Management and Ownership will be discussed in another post. Enjoy!



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