Forty-seven games into an NHL season is no time to get giddy, but here at The Garden Faithful we’re thinking big. We can’t wait for warm spring nights on the Hicksville train station platform, useless white towels that we use to clean up our dogs’ piss, and insufferable trials of sudden death overtime. It’s all a part of what makes the NHL season so enthralling, as the temperature rises the season reaches a pulsating crescendo, and the smells of early spring and intensity of Garden crowds leave you knowing exactly what time of year it is. It’s playoff hockey and when your team is at the center of the madness, it incarcerates your heart and mind for its duration.
But before we can climb that mountain together, we must review how we got here. So without further ado, The Garden Faithful’s Midseason Awards.
The Bobby Holik Award for Big, Lumbering, Useless Oaf That Contributes Nothing To The Team: Brian Boyle
A perennial whipping boy of The Garden Faithful, Boyle has brought new meaning to the word “useless” with three goals in 47 games this season. He would likely be a healthy scratch or AHL regular for any other organization, but with the Rangers and head coach John Tortorella he’s a first-liner who occasionally leads the forwards in ice time. And the worst part is that this is just the first year of a three-year deal he signed over the summer. Don’t be surprised to see Torts ride him and Rupp in playoff games like he did Jody Shelley and Prust in the final game of the 2009-10 season in Philly.
The Marcel Hossa-Jozef Balej Award for Overrated Finesse Eastern European Player Who Should Never Crack The Starting Lineup: Wojtek Wolski
If it were not for Boyle he easily could have won both these awards, but instead Wojtek takes home this distinguished prize. If you’re in the mood for a good laugh, check out Wojtek’s Twitter feed and take note of how he tries to pretend he’s part of the team. It’s quite humorous, really.
The Borat/”That’s What My Dad Looks Like In Pictures From The Day Of My Bris!” Award for Big, Curly, Thick Mustache: John Tortorella
The Mike Gartner Award for Fan Favorite Most Likely To Be Traded At The Trade Deadline: Brandon Dubinsky
It’s hard saying goodbye to a homegrown talent, especially when that player exerts maximum effort on a nightly basis, but in the case of Dubie, he’s ripe to be traded come early March. Maybe the four-year, $16.8 million contract he signed in July has been weighing on him, but Dubie has been a shell of the guy who saw his goal and point total increase each of the past three seasons. In reality, at best, he’s a 60-point guy. Yes, he has a smokin’ hot fiancee and is the creator of #ForTheBoys, but if the right deal comes along, Dubie is prime to be on the move.
The Joe Namath/Willis Reed/Mark Messier/Derek Jeter (Dry Heaving)/Eli Manning (BARF.) Award for Will Still Be Cheered In Public Even If He Commits a Double Murder As Long As He Wins A Championship: Henrik Lundqvist
Henrik has gone from great regular season goalie to elite regular season goalie this year. In my mind he’s the front-runner to win the Vezina and with his ability to make both men and women lose their train of thought when his crystal clear blue eyes and strong, toned…whoa, come on the television screen, he has easily become the most universally liked Ranger since the 1993-94 season. With that said, if he wants his number in the rafters and to never have to pay for a meal in New York City again, he needs to win a Stanley Cup. And while he has been a master of the regular season, the playoffs have been a challenge. Sure he’s had his moments (Game 3 vs. Sabres in ’07; Game 4 vs. Caps in ’09), but The King has yet to steal a playoff series like all great goalies do. This is by far the best Rangers team he has played on so it will be interesting to see how that effects Henrik’s play come springtime.
Midseason Grades (Performance, Expectations, Intangibles all taken into account)
Marian Gaborik: A
Ryan Callahan: A-
Brad Richards: A-
Carl Hagelin: A-
Derek Stepan: B+
Artem Anisimov: B+ (the plus is for his futile efforts to speak English in 24/7 and his cute Russian accent)
Ruslan Fedetenko: B-
John Mitchell: B-
Brandon Prust: C
Brandon Dubinsky: C
Mike Rupp: C-
Brian Boyle: D
Andre Deveaux: D
Erik Christensen: F
Wojtek Wolski: F
Kris Newbury: Incomplete
Mats Zuccarello: Incomplete
Sean Avery: Incomplete
Dan Girardi: A+
Ryan McDonagh: A-
Michael Del Zotto: B
Michael Sauer: B
Jeff Woywitka: B
Stu Bickel: B
Steve Eminger: B
Anton Stralman: B-
Tim Erixon: Incomplete
Marc Staal; Incomplete
Brendan Bell: Huh?
Henrik Lundqvist: A+
Marty Biron: A-
John Tortorella: B+ (The constant line shuffling is infuriating, and reports of atrociously bad smelling breath hurt him; imagine a stiff odor of garlic and tuna cascading from his mouth into your nostrils as he chews you out on the bench, shoving his thumb fungus in your face…he makes me sick.)
Mike Sullivan: Incomplete (still has yet to speak in locker room)
Benoit Allaire: A+ (Genius.)
Five Not So Bold Or Relevant Predictions
5. A key player will have his season ended blocking a shot. You can’t play with fire how the Rangers do with blocking shots and not get burned. It’s inevitable.
4. The Rangers will acquire a big-time player at the deadline but he will quickly fall out favor with Torts and see minimal playing time in the playoffs.
3. Dan Girardi’s legs, heart and lungs will breakdown after playing 59 minutes in the first game of the playoffs; Boyle will begin double-shifting on defense.
2. Carl Hagelin will continue winning over the hearts of Rangers fans everywhere and will have the team’s second-best selling jersey once he gets a real number.
1. Henrik Lundqvist will take The Leap and single-handedly win the Rangers multiple playoff series.
Season Prediction: Win Atlantic division; 2nd in East; Lose in 6 to Bruins in Conference Finals.