Thursday, June 21, 2012

Lundqvist Wins First Career Vezina Trophy

The yearly NHL Awards were unveiled tonight in their annual awards ceremony from Las Vegas, and Henrik Lundqvist took home his first career Vezina Trophy (awarded to the NHL's best goaltender), beating out the Kings' Jonathan Quick and Predators' Pekka Rinne for the award. Lundqvist collected an overwhelming 17 first-place votes from NHL general managers, while Quick had six votes and Rinne had four.

I didn't see the speech live, but Lundqvist apparently dropped an F-bomb during his acceptance speech. It seemed like he was really surprised by winning the Vezina, and also genuinely excited. It's good to see Lundqvist finally get the recognition he deserves for the work he's done to carry the Rangers as a whole year after year since he came into the league.

Beyond that, there were no other awards taken home by anyone from the Rangers, nor did I really expect there to be. I thought Lundqvist had a legitimate at the Vezina and possibly the Hart, but even with the Hart I ultimately felt that it would go to Evgeni Malkin. Ryan Callahan lost out on the Mark Messier NHL Leadership Award to Shane Doan, and John Tortorella lost out on the Jack Adams Award to Ken Hitchcock. Considering these awards are voted on by the same collective group of writers that Torts routinely pisses off in his press conferences, though, it would've been a real shock if he would've won.

For those who didn't see the awards show, you didn't miss much. I checked it out in the beginning for a bit, but I didn't stay tuned into the channel for very long. Everybody who went up there to present the awards felt the need to make corny jokes that were cheesy beyond belief. I will say, though, that the Tracy Morgan 24/7 Rangers-Flyers spoof and Will Arnett's impression of Brendan Shanahan were very funny and are worth checking out if you get the chance, though. I commend the NHL for trying to get creative with the awards show, but to be honest I just don't think enough people care to sit down and watch for two hours when there's really only three or four awards the majority of fans care about.

So, congrats to Henrik Lundqvist on winning his first career Vezina. I, like most Rangers fans, have felt for years that Hank is the best goalie in hockey, and he absolutely deserved winning the Vezina this year after coming up short the previous three times he's been nominated in his career. Lundqvist told the audience while accepting the award that his wife wasn't in attendance because she's due to give birth with their first child in a few weeks. In case you didn't already believe it - it truly is good to be the King.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Rumor: Brandon Dubinsky Being "Aggressively" Shopped By Rangers

Not a whole lot of news surrounding the Rangers lately, but there was an interesting blurb Tweeted by Ottawa radio station TEAM 1200 earlier today, which you can read below.

"According to rumours out of New York, the Rangers are shopping Brandon Dubinsky aggressively."
@TEAM1200Ottawa on Twitter

 That's it. No mention of what those supposed "rumors out of New York" are surrounding Brandon Dubinsky, nor was there any mention of who exactly the sources are that the station is getting this information from. I have a hard time believing there's any truth to this rumor because there's been absolutely nothing mentioned by any of the Rangers beat writers, such as Steve Zipay of Newsday or Larry Brooks of The New York Post, and those guys are usually on top of all those rumors. If there was any news about the Rangers trying to aggressively move Dubi, I have to believe at least one of the million Rangers beat writers I follow daily on Twitter would've mentioned it.

So, I'm not really sure where these supposed rumors came from, but I doubt there's anything to it. The fact of the matter is that the Rangers very well may be shopping Dubinsky, but I still think dealing him now when his value is at an all-time low would be a mistake. After all, if the Rangers gave up on Marian Gaborik after one bad season, who knows how far the team would've gotten this season? I really only see Dubinsky moving if he's a part of a large package to bring in a Rick Nash type of prolific goal-scorer. Other than that, I'd be surprised if Dubi isn't a Blueshirt again next season.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Los Angeles Kings Win Stanley Cup, Quick Named Conn Smythe Winner

The 2011-2012 NHL season officially came to a close tonight with the Los Angeles Kings defeating the New Jersey Devils in Game 6 of the Stanley Cup Finals by a score of 6-1. Jonathan Quick won the Conn Smythe Trophy after posting a brilliant 1.46 GAA and .946 SV% while going 16-4 in 20 playoff games.

Congratulations to the Kings, and also to the Devils for putting him quite a fight after it looked like this series would be an easy win for the Kings after the first three games. I said after the Rangers were eliminated that I really had no plans to watch any of the Stanley Cup Finals, and I really didn't. Aside from being out at places where it may have been on I didn't go out of my way and put any of the games on. I'm a fan of the game of hockey, but after the rollercoaster the Rangers put everybody through in the playoffs, I really just had no interest in watching the Devils attempt to win a Stanley Cup when the Rangers came so close to being in that position. That being said, you have to give the Devils credit where it's due. They turned this into a series after losing the first three games and showed a lot of heart coming winning the past two games. But, as is the case nine times out of ten, the Devils ultimately found out that putting themselves in a 3-0 hole was just too much to overcome. There's a reason only one team has come back from a 3-0 series deficit to go onto win the series - it's kind of hard to do. You just need to have so many things go right while your opponent needs to have so many things go wrong to be able to turn the entire series upside down, and it obviously takes everything out of you. The Devils deserve credit for climbing back into the series, though, so good for them.

And now we play the waiting game. With the collective bargaining agreement set to expire this offseason, the NHL and NHLPA will need to get to work on reaching a new CBA as soon as possible. Many people expect a lockout could be in the future, and after the way things went the last time the CBA expired, it's certainly a realistic worry to have. I'll get into it more in the next few weeks and months, but the one thing I'll say is that if another full season is canceled under Gary Bettman's watch, it will absolutely ruin what's left of his already tarnished legacy as NHL Commissioner. That reason alone makes me thing a deal will be reached. When that will come, though, is anyone's guess. If a lockout happens that extends into the regular season, however, I think it would actually be beneficial to the Rangers. For one, the style of hockey they play is so physical and rough that playing less games would only be a good thing for these guys' bodies. Secondly, it would also mean the Rangers would have less games to play without Marian Gaborik, whose offseason shoulder surgery is expected to keep him sidelined until November or December.

As I said, though, there will be plenty of time to discuss all that, along with the Draft and free agency in the upcoming weeks.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Marian Gaborik Out 5-6 Months With Torn Labrum

In case you didn't think things could get any worse after the way the Rangers saw their season end just over a week ago, think again. 

The Rangers announced on Friday that Marian Gaborik will be undergoing surgery this week to repair a torn labrum in his right shoulder, which Gaborik believes he suffered in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals against the Ottawa Senators during a collision along the boards behind the net. Gaborik is expected to miss five to six months; five months being an absolute best case scenario. That means the Rangers will be without their leading goal-scorer until November or December, and that's assuming Gaborik doesn't suffer any setbacks in his recovery.

Obviously, this is huge news, and very disappointing for a team that already has enough trouble scoring goals as it is. I guess the one good part from all of this (if you can really call it that) is that he's having surgery in June, so Glen Sather still has a long time to make some moves and do what he has to do to bring in another scorer. I'm sure the news on Gaborik will only increase speculation that the Rangers may go hard after Zach Parise in free agency or revisit talks with the Columbus Blue Jackets for Rick Nash, but it's really way too early to assume any of that. All I know is that this team needed offensive help before this news broke, and this only intensifies the need to bring in another goal-scorer.

Gaborik told reporters in a conference call that he never considered sitting out in the playoffs and tried not to think about the injury while he was playing through it.

Here's part of what Gaborik told the press:

"There was no point (in getting surgery during the playoffs). I tried to put it aside and focus on playing because you don't get these situations where you're playing for The Cup (often). I just wanted to go out there and go for it."
 Blueshirts United

For all the flack Gaborik took in the postseason from fans and the media (myself included), you really have to appreciate the heart the guy showed to play through this injury and not use it as an excuse for his inconsistent play. Gaborik never let on that he was injured and never even missed practice throughout the playoffs from what I can recall. He also told the media the injury had nothing to do with his benching in Game 2 of the Eastern Conference Finals against the Devils, when he played just three minutes in the third period.

You can read the Rangers' press release on Gaborik's injury here, and more on what Gaborik had to tell the media about his injury here.

Also, in some minor news, the Rangers announced that they have signed center Oscar Lindberg out of the Swedish Elite League (SEL). Lindberg, 20, was acquired last May from the Phoenix Coyotes in exchange for Ethan Werek, but really doesn't project to be anything special. He recorded just five goals and five assists in 46 games playing in the SEL with 18 penalty minutes this past season and is really nothing more than Hartford depth at this point.