Hi kids. We’re not going to one of those dumb-as-dirt Keep ‘Em/Dump ‘Em polls as one NYC paper does every season in every sport. Why is that dumb? Because there’s no room to explain how you are going to dump so-and-so, or how you are going to replace him, etc.
So we’ll go with straight report cards:
4-Michael Del Zotto … C- … Not the first young defenseman to have a sophomore slump. He’s still big in the team’s plans; still has a chance to be special.
5-Dan Girardi … B+ … The Block Ness Monster sure grew a lot this year, and became another symbol of the Rangers’ blood and guts (not to mention bruises and dislocations).
8-Brandon Prust … A … coined “It’s Just Pain.” Won the Steven McDonald award. Led the team in short-handed goals. Fought everybody. And more.
10-Marian Gaborik … D … Not nearly enough production, not nearly enough consistency, and on some nights not enough effort. Part of the blame was his lack of linemates.
16-Sean Avery … C … Whether he was hamstrung by being forced to walk the line and not cross it is the argument. For two years now, hasn’t been the player he once was.
17-Brandon Dubinsky … B+ … Was the first half MVP, and shone when Ryan Callahan went down the first time. Still inconsistent, though, and was in the playoffs, too.
18-Marc Staal … A … I agree with John Tortorella. Staal was really good, especially when challenged by an Alex Ovechkin type, but there’s more to come.
19-Ruslan Fedotenko … B+ … Pretty fabulous short-term signing on a tryout in camp. Did pretty much everything; was excellent in the playoffs. Earned another contract.
20-Vinny Prospal … INCOMPLETE … Would have been a tough grade if he played more games, because he was very up and down. With a bum knee and more kids coming, barring a trade of some of those, he probably won’t be back.
21-Derek Stepan … B … The rookie was pretty darn good. Had his freshman hiccups, as expected. His future is still not defined. Can he be a top-two-line player?
22-Brian Boyle … A … We all know the story by now, how Boyle took skating lessons and won a job that nobody, especially his coach, expected him to win, then scored like crazy in the first half.
23-Chris Drury … INCOMPLETE … His one goal was a big one, and he sure looked better after his knee surgery than before it.
24-Ryan Callahan … A … Heart, soul, leader. Second on the team in goals and points, despite missing 22 games. And the Rangers twice sorely missed him
26-Erik Christensen … C- … Did well in shootouts. Not so much in the regular 60 minutes. Provided very little in the postseason, too. Could be a goner.
27-Ryan McDonagh … B+ … Had some tough moments in the playoffs, but was mostly solid after a spectacular breakthrough as a rookie D. Tremendous upside.
28-Bryan McCabe … C … Was brought in to shoot the puck and make the power play go, which was probably an impossible task. But was slow and struggled defensively.
30-Henrik Lundqvist … A … Yeah, he had some struggles in the middle of the season. But when it came time to carry the mail, he played his best in big games, including the playoffs. He’s elite, no question about it.
31-Alex Frolov … D … Another guy signed for offense, at a pretty big price tag, who didn’t get it done.
36-Mats Zuccarello … B … Looks like he will be able to play in the NHL, and did some big things, but wasn’t ready for the grind yet.
38-Michael Sauer … A … Another out of nowhere guy who not only made the team but was as about as good as any other defenseman.
42-Artem Anisimov … B- … Struggled down the stretch and in the playoffs. First half, though, was terrific with Dubinsky and Callahan. Plays both ends, too.
43-Martin Biron … A … You couldn’t have a better backup goalie, who not only gave Henrik Lundqvist enough breathers early on, but won some big games.
44-Steve Eminger … B … Did his best when asked, had some jam, ultimately wasn’t one of the top six D-Men, but surely contributed.
86-Wojtek Wolski … C … Well, we saw why he’s been around the block. Wildly inconsistent, despite good size and tremendous skill.
94-Derek Boogaard … INCOMPLETE … Another signing that was doomed to fail. Came in with injuries from last year, was out of shape, then had shoulder and head injuries.
97-Matt Gilroy … B- … Had a tough sophomore season, but in the end he might have earned himself another contract. Was darn good in the playoffs.
Coach-John Tortorella … A … You can give him some blame for the power play, which really didn’t have any weapons, but made this the most honest, hard-working, rugged Rangers team in years and years, and is the reason you believe the plan is working, and will work.
GM-Glen Sather … B … His checkbook aquisitions continued to be spotty with Boogaard and Frolov, but Rozsival for Wolski gained some cap space, the Biron signing was terrific, getting guys like Boyle and Prust and McDonagh and Fedotenko, too. And his draft record lately, pretty darn good: Staal, Callahan, Dubinsky, Stepan, Anisimov, with Krieder and a bunch more coming.
Hope I didn’t forget anybody. Thoughts?
We’ll wrap up the pick-the-playoffs first-round contest results in the next couple of days after all the Game 7s are played.
As for the Paul Mara Beard Extravaganza, for the few who entered, please send me your “after” photos, to firstname.lastname@example.org. And remember to include your screen name so my tech guys can match you up with your “before” photos.
Does anybody watching this postseason still want to argue with me that there is momentum that carries over from one game to another in the playoffs? Not.