As promised, here are my season-ending grades for the Blueshirts. As you can see by the card, I gave the team a B-. Unlike many people, I do not judge them on a pass/fail because if you do, then 29 teams flunk every year and that just sucks. As The Dark Ranger said, the Rangers were overrated by most everyone (not me, I was just way off on Tampa and Toronto). Yes, the Rangers lost in the conference semis again, yes they had to go on a great run to get into the playoffs. But the roster had some significant changes and the team played some real good hockey at times. Compared to what they could/should be (an A+), I think a B- is a fair grade.
Now, just as with the team itself, the individual players received grades that do not compare them to the rest of the league, but to how they performed in the roles they were given on the Rangers. Inferno, over at Rangers Review, did his own report card based on the team's playoff performance. Mine is based on the entire year's play and I included everyone who saw action in at least one game, even if they were dealt away or spent most of the year in Hartford. I will not do the coaching staff or GM here, as I am still a tad outraged so I would not be fair and would give them all F's. And one last thing before I get to the grades themselves, the New York Times put up the Lamentations of the Vanquished and has my answers for the Rangers. Now here is the rest of my report card:
Sean Avery - A- Yes he disappeared against the Pens before he got hurt, and he was hurt for a few stretches during the regular season, but Avery was Avery and his unmatched passion for the jersey was appreciated.
Blair Betts - B B for Bettsy. He did his job to the best of his ability, and you can't ask for much more. Well, yes, yes you can. He showed the smarts to get into good positions and lightning fast speed but an utter inability to shoot at anything besides the logo on the opposing goaltender's chest.
Dane Byers - INC Byers got five minutes worth of ice time in one game this year (Feb. 2nd vs, LA). He should get a chance to supplant Hollweg in the tough bruiser energy line slot in the fall.
Ryan Callahan - A- Cally could/should have scored a few more goals but other than that, his hard work and dedicationwas heavily appreciated.
Nigel Dawes - B He worked his way into the Rangers lineup and made Mmmmaaaarrrtttyyy look like crap, but he had a eight game scoreless streak in the playoffs and for a scoring line wing, that's just too long.
Chris Drury - B I love to rave about how great he was on the penalty kill, in the faceoff circle and everywhere else, but the fact is that he made a lot of money to do well in the playoffs and he didn't.
Brandon Dubinsky - A Anyone else notice that he was a rookie? I didn't think so. First year first line center, who could ask for anything more?
Scott Gomez - B Gomer was the second-highest point scorer on the team and a dominant force against the Devils in the first round, but couldn't carry that over to the Pens' series. As I pointed out after the Game 3 debacle, "Seeing Scott Gomez grin while being interviewed in the post game interviews is making me sick." He claims to love New York and going forward will need to show he cares; smiling after bad losses just doesn't do it - I'm not saying he has to throw water bottles, but at least be visibly upset that you and your team played woefully.
Ryan Hollweg - C- As I have written, I don't attribute the demise of the Rangers to his bad penalty in Game 3. But it wasn't his first bad penalty of the year. I didn't give him a D or an F because he was one of the few Rangers to give full effort every moment of every shift he took.
Marcel Hossa - F He never recaptured the lightning that he showed over six games late last season and the ties were thankfully cut with him at the trade deadline.
Jaromir Jagr - B- So passionless for so long and then he flipped a switch and came alive in the playoffs. That being said, he still led the team in scoring but, had he played the entire season, then he could have scored over a 100 points again.
Lauri Korpikoski - INC Thrust into the fire, he scored his first NHL goal in his first NHL game. The spark that he added to that game was tremendous, seeing as the veterans didn't do the same. I look forward to seeing more of him.
Greg Moore - D I wanted to give him an incomplete, but he played in six games and wasn't able to force Renney to make a tough decision and keep him (as Dawes did).
Colton Orr - C He didn't fare too well when battling true heavyweights and never stopped other teams from running at the 'stars', but he made up for the losses by doing some solid checking work.
Petr Prucha - C Renney didn't really put him in the positions where he could be successful and Pru couldn't make anything happen on his own. That being said, he takes hits like a champ and never gives up on plays.
Brendan Shanahan - B In the many dark times during the regular season when the captain was anything but, Shanny stepped up and became the face of the team. But at the same time, his production slipped for the second straight year and he was practically invisible when the team needed him most.
Fredrik Sjostrom - B Shoey (we need to get this guy a real nickname) did solid fourth line work after coming over at the deadline. He showed signs of being able to do more and next year will hopefully begin to fulfill that potential.
Martin Straka - C He had the Scotty Hockey Play of the Year with his shift against Boston where he broke his finger and stayed on the ice. He also got a ton of minutes, many of them on the power play, and put up just 14 regular season goals. It was amazing to see a veteran of his stature have such little confidence in his own skills.
Christian Backman - D He scored some points, which keeps him from getting an F. His utter incompetence in the Rangers' zone led to bad penalties, missed coverages, goals against ...
Ivan Baranka - INC Baranka played just one game back in November and saw nearly 13 minutes of ice time. He collected an assist (on Colton Orr's only goal of the year) and acquitted himself pretty well but couldn't push himself up the depth chart to get recalled again.
Dan Girardi - B- A solid sophomore season was marred by the untimely playoff slump but all in all, he showed good signs for the future.
Marek Malik - F Do I even have to explain this one?
Paul Mara - C Mara had a few tremendous moments amid a season filled with mediocrity. For a man making three million dollars for playing on the third line, he will not be missed.
Thomas Pock - F He played in just one game, going -2 against Atlanta in October. While other players with little action got incompletes, Pock fails because he was never able to earn the position in the Blueshirts lineup that he once held.
Michal Rozsival - C How can I give the team's number one defenseman a C? Because, despite munching up minutes, he didn't excel as a number one defenseman should. He never committed to either offense or defense and it hurt him all over the ice.
Marc Staal - A The Professional Hockey Writers are perpetually engrossed with numbers and that is a shame, otherwise Staal would have gotten Calder consideration as rookie of the year. Bang up work.
Jason Strudwick - B Strudwick did everything that was asked of him to the best of his ability, you can't ask for anything more.
Fedor Tyutin - B I gave his partner a B- but both were pretty bad in the postseason. Tyutin gets the better grade because he made a few less mistakes and made a few bigger hits.
Henrik Lundqvist - B+ The Swede is up for the Vezina for best goaltender in the league and I only gave him a B+. And you know what? That is all he deserved. He had a few horrid stretches during the regular season and was not the goaltender the Rangers needed in the playoffs.
Stephen Valiquette - B I just rewatched one of the Flyer games from this year and Valley was pretty damn good. He sat on the bench for long stretches then played well enough to get his team the win - exactly what you want from a backup. I wouldn't mind seeing him re-signed.
What do you think? Did I grade on a curve? Was I like the kind second grade teacher who gave everyone feel-good grades or the nazi-esque third grade teacher who gave you your first dose of reality?