Each month at Blueshirt Bulletin, we’ll pick one player from the Rangers who stood out in recent games and award him with the prestigious title of Blueshirt Bulletin’s Bull of the Month. Whether he has been the lone bright spot on the team or one of many, this player will have impressed us with his persistence, consistency, and overall superb play. In short, the Bulletin Bull is the defined difference-maker on the New York Rangers over the course of that month.
October’s Bull is: Henrik Lundqvist
Stats: 2 W, 3 L, 3 OTL, .929 SV%, 2.35 GAA, 247 SV, 266 SA
League Rank: W- 29th, L- 10th, OTL- 1st, SV%- 12th, GAA- 20th, SV- 6th, SA- 5th
Highlight Reel: Rangers VS. Canucks (10/18), Save on Bobby Ryan, Rangers VS. Ducks (10/8)
The Case: Last season, you’d be hard-pressed to pinpoint one player on the Rangers’ roster who stood out among a hardworking, exciting team. The future looked bright, especially with the off-season addition of dynamic winger Brad Richards and the emergence of an up and coming young core that included breakout performances by Brandon Dubinsky, Ryan Callahan, and Brian Boyle.
The first ten games of the 2011-2012 seasons have painted a different picture of the Broadway Blueshirts, but the one unsurprising bright spot on this struggling team has been the performance of the goaltender, Henrik Lundqvist. Just when fans thought it wasn’t possible for the All-Star netminder to get even better, Lundqvist made a slew of spectacular saves to keep his team in each game. Lundqvist was easily the Rangers’ best player early in the season, registering 30 or more saves in five of his last six games to steal some much needed points for the offensively starved Rangers. Prior to last night’s breakout performance, the Rangers were languishing at 27th in the league in goals for, making Henrik Lundqvist’s job that much more difficult—and that much more crucial. Lundqvist’s save percentage and goals against average numbers aren’t eye-opening, but Hank has also faced the 5th most shots of any goaltender in the NHL and has made 247 saves, which is good for 6th in the league.
Another setback for the King has been the absence of the Blueshirts’ best shut-down defenseman, Marc Staal, who hasn’t yet played a game this season due to lingering symptoms from a concussion suffered last season at the hands of his brother, Eric. The loss of the Rangers’ number one defenseman has necessitated the premature call-up of Tim Erixon (who has since been sent down to the Whale) and increased minutes for a still-inconsistent Michael Del Zotto. (Despite his early mistakes, however, the youngster seems to be finally gaining some confidence, as evidenced by his impressive performance last night against the San Jose Sharks.) The Blueshirts have also been caught taking way too many penalties, and have spent more than an entire game (74 minutes) marching in and out of the penalty box. Despite this, the Rangers are up in the standings behind the Chicago Blackhawks and the Pittsburgh Penguins with an 87.5% success rate on the PK. While an enormous amount of credit goes to the team’s penalty killers, the PK begins and ends with Henrik Lundqvist in net.
“He’s been the star of this team since the start of the season.” –Ryan McDonagh
“If there’s still any debate as to who’s better, Henrik Lundqvist or Roberto Luongo, [the game against Vancouver] should provide a resounding answer.” –Andrew Gross
The Verdict: Because of a depleted blue line and a streaky offense, Lundqvist has been forced to play above and beyond his usual Vezina-worthy performance, and, for the most part, he has more than risen to the challenge. Thursday night’s home opener against the division leading Maple Leafs gave Rangers fans a glimpse into what happens when the infallible King Henrik makes a few human mistakes.
Runners Up: Marian Gaborik, Brad Richards. Throughout nine games, Gaborik and Richards had the same point total (9) while complementing each other perfectly: Gaborik had five goals and three assists and Richards had three goals and five assists. (Richards added another assist on Ryan Callahan’s second goal against the Sharks.) While they have since been split up onto different lines, this dynamic duo has certainly lived up to (very high) expectations. Gaborik, in particular, has come out flying nearly every game, indicating a possible return to his 40-goal season form.
Conference Preview > (10/3/11)
Conference Preview > (10/4/11)
Predict Where The Rangers Will Finish > (10/5/11)
Rangers Season Preview > (10/5/11)
Claim Jeff Woywitka Off Waivers > (10/6/11)
King” Vs. The Kings In Season-Opener > (10/7/11)
Doom Rangers In OT Loss To Kings > (10/7/11)
Duck Anaheim, Rangers Must Stay Out Of The Box > (10/7/11)
Offense, But Rangers Pick Up Another Point > (10/8/11)
Erixon Will Stick Around For The Time Being > (10/9/11)
Learned: Two Games In The Books > (10/10/11)
To Move Stepan To First-Line Left Wing > (10/10/11)
Show Early Improvement With Faceoffs > (10/11/11)
Vinny > (10/13/11)
Must Find A Way With Patchwork Defense > (10/14/11)
Top Line Shows Promise, But Rangers Have No Answer For John Tavares > (10/15/11)
To Chew On > (10/17/11)
Future On Broadway In Doubt > (10/17/11)
Must Slow The Sedins, Score Some Goals > (10/18/11)
Lundqvist Beats The Canucks, With A Little Help In The Third Period > (10/19/11)
Is Not Well In Ranger-land > (10/19/11)
Slow Start Might Not Cut It Against Calgary > (10/19/11)
Scores Winner With Just Over 1 Second Remaining In OT >(10/20/11)
Path To New York Is Clearing Quickly For Carl Hagelin And Ryan Bourque > (10/21/11)
Seek Third Win In A Row Against Renney’s Crew > (10/22/11)
Averted As Rangers Are Shutout By Edmonton > (10/23/11)
Road Trip Concludes In Winnipeg On Monday > (10/24/11)
To Chew On > (10/24/11)
Parts Of The Recipe Change And New York Wins > (10/24/11)
Learned: Seven Games In The Books > (10/26/11)
Cookin’ At Last > (10/27/11)
Great Goaltending, New York Had No Chance > (10/27/11)
Minutes > (10/28/11)
Blow Three-Goal Lead And Lose In Shootout > (10/29/11)
Rangers To Recall Sean Avery > (10/30/11)
For Offense > (10/31/11)
To Chew On > (10/31/11)
Rangers Rip Sharks > (11/1/11)
Blueshirt Bulletin's Bull of the Month: Henrik Lundqvist > (11/1/11)
here for our full 2011-2012 Season Archive >
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