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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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.