As I've done in the past, I graded each of the 2011-12 New York Rangers based on expectations, performance all season long and performance when it counted - NOT performance compared to other players. I am, admittedly, a tough grader. Guys with less than 10 games received incompletes.
If you feel so inclined, you can refer back to the report cards for the last few seasons: '07-08, '08-09, '09-10 and '10-11.
By my math this season's grades worked out to a 2.4 GPA, which is between B- and C+. Yes, I'm well aware that the team finished atop the conference with 109 points - two shy of the President's Trophy - and made it to the conference final. That's why I boosted the overall team grade up to a B.
And that is being charitable. Sure the numbers looked pretty but rarely did this team come close to their potential. At no point was this team dominant, they did not put forth a single 60 minute effort and the postseason was a horror show - two seven game series against inferior opponents and a massive failure against Fatso. The Rangers got as far as they did and racked up as many points as they did on the backs of a few; there were plenty of passengers on this ride.
Still raging about the B? If this was pass/fail, unlike the majority, I would have failed the team outright. Twenty-nine teams fail every season and there was certainly no glory in this season's ignominious end. So, a reminder: these guys are graded against themselves and their own limits/abilities, not against other players.
#42 Artem Anisimov: Confidence has always been key and it came and went all too often. Mostly went. Flashbacks of Vlad Vorobiev, talent wasted by glaring deficiencies that can and should be corrected. C
#16 Sean Avery: Dealt with the slap in the face from the franchise the first time, but the second broke him. Just a damned shame. D
#22 Brian Boyle: Big contract, small drive. Rarely used his size and the moment he got things going, he got hit in the head and went back to being a waste of space. C
#24 Ryan Callahan: Lived up to that letter. A
#40 Erik Christensen: One shootout goal did not make up for Mr. Softy the Backstabber's halfhearted, lackluster play. F
#33 Andre Deveaux: Not the smartest, perhaps the slowest, but did his best. INC
#17 Brandon Dubinsky: First year in a big contract syndrome. Disappointing from start to finish; a shadow of the impact player he should have been. F
#19 Ruslan Fedotenko: After a middling regular season Feds wanted to win in the playoffs and it showed. What a warrior. B+
#10 Marian Gaborik: Sneaky, sneaky scoring ceased with a bad benching and a bad shoulder. A-
#62 Carl Hagelin: Bork! of a start but the numbers faded fast and never returned. Apologized too much for his hit on Alfredsson and earned a bad reputation. B
#20 Chris Kreider: Stepped from campus to the chase for the Cup and showed more than most of the veterans around him. A
#34 John Mitchell: Saw far too many minutes for a AAAA guy but earned the coach's trust for his honest play. C
#45 Kris Newbury: Reckless play caused Newbury to fall out of favour despite positive skill set. INC
#8 Brandon Prust: Grit, he has it. Team responds to his heart and his hammering of opponents but his light scoring touch got even lighter. B+
#19 Brad Richard$: At times earned that contract (0.5 seconds). At others, not so much (no goals vs. NJ). Point total decreased for the second straight season but still was second on the Rangers. B+
#71 Mike Rupp: Hilarious that he had the nerve to call anyone else irrelevant. Had one good game. Did not intimidate opponents, did not fight for teammates, did not block shots, did not come through in the playoffs. F
#28 John Scott: Six games, one fight, one shot. So not worth that fifth round draft pick. INC
#21 Derek Stepan: Held off his sophomore slump for as long as possible, but not long enough. One goal in his last 25 games, 2 in 30, 3 in 41 is unacceptable. B-
#86 Wojtek Wolski: Far more time in the tub than on the ice. And when on the ice looked like he wanted to be in the tub. INC
#36 Mats Zuccarello: Couldn't convince the brass to call him up for too long. Once up, Zuke looked to have improved in all areas (he shot the puck!) before getting hurt blocking a shot. B-
#39 Brendan Bell: One game, -1, whatever. INC
#41 Stu Bickel: For a recent ECHLer who is slow as molasses, Stuuuu had himself a heckuva season. Made Staal comfortable upon his return and made teammates comfortable with his willingness to fight. B
#4 Michael Del Zotto: Some flashy numbers aren't enough to make up for the same old mistakes. He's sloppy with the puck, he's indecisive with it, he had little idea how to ice his position, he hits for contact and not possession, he flops far too often ... Del Zastrous. F
#44 Steve Eminger: Half a season of half competent play. Occasionally laid down a decent hit but was trusted less than Bickel and Stralman. Pretty much says it all right there. C-
#5 Dan Girardi: Top flight defense throughout an All Star campaign filled with far too many minutes of ice time. A
#27 Ryan McDonagh: Haha, Bob Gainey, ha ha ha. All around excellence. Finished with just nine less points than DZ despite playing 271 less man advantage minutes. A
#38 Michael Sauer: A solid soldier who helped the Blueshirts survive without Staal, Sauer sadly didn't snap the clasp on his chinstrap on December 5th and it may have cost the Rangers the Cup. B
#18 Marc Staal: Took a while to re-gain his game but eventually got there. B+
#32 Anton Stralman: Moments of impressive play from the Swede but lots of lapses. C+
#6 Jeff Woywitka: Slow skater couldn't play the coach's game. F
#53 Tim Erixon: Showed signs of good things to come. B-
#43 Marty Biron: Teammates loved him, but so did too many opposing shooters. His .904 save percentage on this team was atrocious. C
#30 Henrik Lundqvist: Not his best season but still among the best of the best netminders in the NHL. A