Stranger Nation’s Midseason Review: Goaltending Edition

Longtime Bonehead and frequent contributor Stranger Nation (SN) is preparing a series of Midseason reviews that will run this week. We’ve also got some great historical reviews coming up as well. If you want to write about anything at all, please email me at

And now, for the review:

The mid-season review is occurring now with the All Star Game weekend providing a natural break coupled with the hope that the NYR will be playing into May and have only played half of their season to date. With 49 games in the books, that would be a total of 98 and have them playing in the ECF at a minimum. Not saying this team is performing like an ECF finalist over the first half but stranger things have happened and in this playoff format they could get slotted in the Wild Card playing against the ‘weaker’ Atlantic Division.

The player evaluations are not on a ‘value’ basis relative to Cap hit but as on ice performance assessment and value to the team’s performance.

Henrik Lundquist: Grade C [GP 36: 21-13-1; 2.73; .907; 2 SO] [Editor’s grade: D]
The ‘King’ of New York Hockey has been through enough drama in the first half to warrant a show on Broadway. As the most consistent and best performing goalie in franchise history, Henk deserves a ton of gratitude from the Blueshirt faithful. The critical nature of the position and the uneven play of this defense shine the spotlight even brighter on his performance. Overall his play has been erratic; letting in some questionable goals followed by standing on his head to keep the team in games.

Looking at the splits; his home performances and against Eastern Conference teams have been the sore spot with October and January were particularly tough, save for the most recent stretch prior to the ASG break. A very good record against the Western Conference especially the Pacific Division is a high point of his record to date. The overall stats are very low when compared to his high standard; highest GAA in career (check), lowest save % in career (check) and. more than likely, lowest number of games played in a non-injury season. This is a continuation from last season of being in the bottom half of NHL goalies in traditional goalie performance measures.

The goalie is the last line of defense; a defense that has been equally inconsistent so the chicken/egg scenario will forever be considered. The Goalie Whisperer, Benoit Allaire, has proven to be an effective tonic for whatever problems arise so the hope of a return to peak performance can be found. Captain Obvious says the team will only play into May if the King can summon the high level of play witnessed in playoffs past.

[Editor’s note: don’t forget that he has yet to switch to the slimmer pants. I imagine he spent the break getting used to them, but this could get worse before it gets better, if it gets better at all]

Antti Raanta Grade: B+ [GP 18: 10-4-0; GAA 2.23; Save % .923; 2 SO] [Editor’s grade: A-]
The Finnish ‘prince’ has proven to be a very capable back up to the King and was playing at a high level prior to an injury in early January. Antti needs to come back and play at the same level to spell Henk while serving as a vital insurance policy if the King loses his game or it hurt. Not going to get into the team psychology playing in front of a back up or level of competition faced as factors in his performance. His splits, like the overall team and Henks’, are much better on the road than at home.

Can he handle the full load of the tough games down the stretch? Would he stand up to the heat of a do or die playoff game? Nobody really knows those answers and most would prefer to not find out this season. The net-net is most are relieved he is on the team and confidence is growing on his ability to step in and play big games if needed.

58 thoughts on “Stranger Nation’s Midseason Review: Goaltending Edition”

  1. Thanks for the review SN! I think a C for Hank is fair – Editor’s D is too low. I think his higher GAA and SV% this year is due in part to the soft goals (lack of focus) but also to the wide open offensive game they were playing for most of the season which leads to more scoring chances. That, coupled with a porous defense, means the red light goes on and on and on. Also not sure why you say he was in the bottom half last season? By most measures he had a standout year while facing the most shots of any goalie and most high danger shots. As for Antti I think he gets an A. Has far outpaced expectations.


  2. While watching the All-Star 3 on 3 it is so apparent how important it is to have a good D in front of our Goalie. Snipers left along in front of a goalie will have a field day! We need an upgrade on the back end!


  3. We will go as far in the playoffs as Hank can take us, while he’s not been very consistent so far, if he’s coming into good form in the final 15-20 games then thats fine for me!


  4. Think I would go C-/A- HL, though sometimes a victim of the D, is a skilled veteran and lets be honest – nobody pays that $ or keeps an old man in goal to just stop the easy ones. I sometimes wonder what the NYR would look like if the (evil) Belichick was Coach/GM?

    Liked by 1 person

  5. “Somebody named Fast is practicing with the Rangers today. Who is that?”
    I don’t know, but it sounds like he’s speedy.


  6. Norm, because of goaltenders who have played at least 10 games, Lundqvist’s save percentage is 36th out of 55. The only reason it isn’t an F is the past week of games and the two road games against the Flyers.


  7. Congrats to Carp for getting a gig with the Rangers. It’ll be like when he wrote about Jesper Fast, except now about every player.

    Unfortunately for me and all of you, that means this place has to stay open for the time being as Carp’s work doesn’t allow for commenting.

    Liked by 2 people

  8. Good for Carp!
    I’ve realized that Lundqvist is the rare athlete (up there with Bernie Williams) I just cannot view objectively.


  9. Carp should forgo his paycheck and MSG stock options and instead get paid in a small % ownership of the team. That way when the Rangers go public, Carp will assume control.


  10. ILB – Thanks for posting the great news as all is right with the world as Carp is back on the Rangers beat – WOO-HOO! Hopefully, we will get to see Carp on pre- and post-game shows as well as intermissions. Of course, that means I will have to start watching them. Maybe even a Carp takeover of The MSG Hockey Show with a revolving cast of Boneheads! Now that would be must-see TV!!!!!


  11. NYI soon to be a team without an arena.

    I saw Barclays for the first time on a family trip back in November while going back and forth from Atlantic Terminal. The only event during that time was some kids’ concert. I guess that stuff is more profitable than their brand of hockey!


  12. Yes, everyone should be aware that he is now a company man, and while I think he won’t write anything that he doesn’t believe, he certainly won’t be able to write objectively or negatively.


  13. so you’re – sniffle sniffle – telling me – sniffle sniffle – that this blog was only Carp’s – sniffle – rebound relationship? The MSG blog will never love you like this blog does!


  14. Awesome news for Carp! Ya know I looked at Hank’s game logs this year. Talk about a bi-polar season. In 20 games he has a SV% > .92 and in those games a 1.6gaa. In the other 16 games his SV% in every one of them was < .90 (and in 6 of them below .85) with a 3.7gaa. He didn't have 1 game with a SV% between .90 and .92. So he was either amazing or awful with not much in between. Here's hoping for a tad more consistency from the King going forward.


  15. Sorry to see that Carp won’t be posting here, but I didn’t think a guy with his experience and knowledge would be out of work for very long.


  16. Lundqvist has apparently cost the Rangers 8 points this year. Does that total include or exclude the points he’s won for them? I know it’s a down year for him so far, but…


  17. Norm I’m pretty sure he has been responsible for way more than 8 points this year! He pretty much was the reason they got 6 of the last 8…


  18. Hard to measure these +/- points, no doubt, but the idea that the Rangers are carrying Lundqvist is, I think, a bit of an exaggeration.


  19. And as long as we’re midpointing:
    2016: 49 games, 27 wins, 17 losses, 5 OT losses, 142 GF, 129 GA, 59 pts.
    2017: 49 games, 31 wins, 17 losses, 1 OT loss, 167 GF, 129 GA, 63 pts.
    Third-most important season over, second-most important season about to begin. Here’s hoping the Rangers are relatively healthy (and that Lundqvist is beginning to peak) in time for the first-most important season!

    Liked by 1 person

  20. For the official record, I’m not actually an MSG employee, just freelancing twice a week for a while. Doesn’t rule out me getting a full-time job elsewhere or creating a blog somewhere, or anything, but, yeah, my MSG stories are going to fairly positive.

    And youse are hilarious, especially FG.

    And i will still be commenting here.

    Liked by 5 people

  21. Well… contracts don’t really mean much. Didnt they extend Torts and then fired him the following year? If it’s time to go, it’s time to go.


  22. Carp is still commenting I guess that means I must stay positive! No more whining about this cotton candy team!


  23. ‘What did I think of his effing performance? Is that what you’re asking me, what did I effing thing of his effing performance? That’s some question, what did I effing think of his effing performance.’


  24. Brawl started when Habs player barely brushed against Nordiques goalie… FULL OUT BRAWL!
    This what should’ve happened after Eakin annihilated Henk…


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