Saturday, February 23, 2019

Zuccarello Will Be Missed

Mats Zuccarello will be missed in NY

Not a happy day to see Mats Zuccarello traded to Dallas. He was an awesome Ranger. Good Luck to you sir.

update: ESPN -- Mats Zuccarello hurt in first Stars game, likely out 4 weeks

Hank and Morty: Lundqvist is the Morton Andersen of the NHL

Friday, February 22, 2019

Hank and Morty: Henrik Lundqvist is the Morton Andersen of the NHL

Morton Andersen and Henrik Lundqvist - similar careers?
Morton Andersen and Henrik Lundqvist
During a recent funny and interesting Puck Soup podcast someone made the observation that it seems like NHL goalies have become comparable to NFL kickers. That idea rang true, especially regarding the Rangers own Henrik Lundqvist. Comparing Hank to an aging kicker, who occasionally shanks one, is a rich metaphor.

The working premise is that goalies, like kickers, basically have one job to do, they are all a little flaky, and if they screw up you lose. The analogy also goes on to surmise that good goalies, like good kickers are interchangeable. Plug a goalie with a 92% save percentage in place of a goalie with a 92% save percentage and the team's performance stays about the same. Put a 88% save goalie in for a 92% guy and your team will have a drop off. It works the same for an NFL kicker, high percentage kickers give you a better chance of winning. So, it is all just a simple numbers game for kickers and goalies.

In other words, there is no need to get all excited about goalies. Because when is the last time you got excited over your team or any NFL team signing a kicker? Goalies just fill a hole, or a net, and like a kicker has to make routine PAT's, a goalie has to make routine saves. A good kicker will make that clutch +45 yard field goal in the final 2 minutes, just like a good goalie should make that difficult save versus the power play in the final 2 minutes. Riding a hot goalie into the playoffs is just like riding a hot kicker.

It's the same gig, perhaps even the same focused mindset - block out all the noise and do your one job. These days finding a reliable goalie now seems to be about the same amount of work as finding a good kicker. It's not that big a deal. Heck, in Toronto you can rent a goalie for $50 per game. Finding and developing goalies, who are drafted in the later rounds might well be the path to success. Audition enough guys, check their stats, test them out, and keep the one that does the best job. Easy peasy.

Perhaps we can attribute this goalie interchangeability to the better coaching, and goalie camps etc., that kids are receiving as they age up. For example, MSG analyst, and former NHL goalie, Steve Valiquette, gives kids private and semi-private instruction, as well as mentorship programs at his Clear Sight Goalie School. Trust me, back in the day kids did not have access to this high level, intensive coaching from former NHL players.

This now brings us back to the King, Henrik Lundqvist. Sadly, it looks like the days of royal pomp and circumstance are over. The King has no clothes. Lunqvist is ranked 39th out of 81 goalies at Lundqvist's GAA (goals against average) this season is 2.97, which is 32nd out of 50 goalies with at least 20 games played. His save percentage is 0.909, which is good for 27th out of 50. All in all a very pedestrian performance this season from Lundqvist. How again did he get to go to the All-Star game? This new reality means there are now numerous goalies who could be swapped in for the very high priced, $8,500,000 per year, King.

Notably, on the plus side, Lundqvist (448) recently passed Terry Sawchuck (445) to become the NHL goalie with the sixth most wins during their career. Marty Brodeur is first with 691 wins. Henrik is the only non-Canadian in the top 13 goalies of all time, so it seems certain that he is bound for the Hall of Fame.

So now that we are comparing kickers to goalies, who is the NFL kicker who had a career like Hank. Who was a good solid All-Pro kicker, who never won the big one, but was decent enough to have a long career. Clearly one NFL Hall of Fame kicker comes to mind: Morton Andersen. A key connection is that Lundqvist, like Andersen, will probably be enshrined in his Hall of Fame without a championship. Andersen also happens to be Scandinavian. Andersen was born in Denmark in 1960, played 25 seasons, his last NFL game was in 2007. Anderson is 2nd all time in the NFL with points scored (2544) and field goals made (565), behind Adam Vinatieri. He went into the NFL Hall of Fame in 2017.

Here's a quick comparison of Morty and Hank:

  • Nickname: Morty is the "Great Dane" - Hank is "the King"
  • Born: Andersen in Copenhagen, Denmark - Hank in Are, Sweden
  • Closest to a Championship: Morty was a loser in the 1999 Super Bowl with the Falcons - Hank lost the 2014 Stanley Cup Finals to the Kings
  • Seasons played: Morty 25, with 5 teams - Hank, 14 seasons and counting with the Rangers
  • All-Star: Andersen was first-team All-Pro 5 years - Lundqvist has been an NHL All-Star 5 times
  • Height: Morty is 6'2" - Hank is 6'1"
  • What side: Morty kicks with his left foot - Hank catches with his left hand
If Lundqvist wants to keep playing after his current mega contract expires, and his stats keep him in the top half of all goalies, then he might well end up playing for multiple teams like Andersen. After all goalies are like kickers now, they have one skill and will need to travel.

There's more to be written about this shared legacy I am sure, but that's it for now.

Here's a list where other NHL goalies are connected to an NFL counterpart:

Terry Sawchuck and George Blanda - old school professionals
Terry Sawchuck -- George Blanda

Thursday, February 21, 2019

Hockey Podcasts

Nothing better than a good hockey podcast:


New York Rangers (@NYRangers) | Twitter

NHL Network (@NHLNetwork) | Twitter

NHL on TNT (@NHL_On_TNT) | Twitter

The Hockey Writers (@TheHockeyWriter) | Twitter

Blueshirt Banter (@BlueshirtBanter) | Twitter

NHL Public Relations (@PR_NHL) | Twitter

Greg Wyshynski (@wyshynski) | Twitter

NHL Player Safety (@NHLPlayerSafety) | Twitter

Stephen Valiquette (@VallysView) | Twitter