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So I watched as Pekka Rinne, the estimable 38-year-old Nashville goaltender, took a victory lap around his home ice to a standing ovation following the May 10 shutout of Carolina in his 683rd — and perhaps, last — game for the franchise.
And all I was thinking was: This is the way Henrik Lundqvist deserved to go out as a Ranger — with cheers and gratitude ringing in his ears from the adoring Garden faithful, and not with the anticlimactic buyout that followed The King’s slide into near obscurity those final months of 2019-20.
But that’s not all. Because it is my belief general manager Chris Drury and the Blueshirts should target the impending free agent Rinne to fill the role as backup goaltender to Igor Shesterkin next season if he is on the market. Yes, of course, that would entail dealing Alexandar Georgiev, but that is a move that would serve the best interests of both parties.
The Rangers need an infusion of leadership in all corners of the room. The next coach can bring only so much of it. They also need to stabilize their goaltending situation after a season in which both Shesterkin and Georgiev were attempting to establish themselves in the NHL.
That was a task performed much better by Shesterkin following an insecure first few weeks out of the gate, but to a large degree he will have to do it all over again in what would be his first 82-game season. To a larger degree, so would Georgiev, who never found an acceptable level of consistency.
Georgiev would likely benefit from a change in scenery if the Rangers could move him and his $2.425 million cap hit, which is pretty pricey for a backup goalie. The Bulgarian-born netminder probably needs to go to a team that perceives him as at least a co-No. 1, while the Rangers need a veteran to support Shesterkin.
If Rinne — whose Predators will face the Hurricanes the first round of the playoffs following a late-season surge — chooses to continue his NHL career elsewhere, he would check all of the boxes. As Nashville transitioned to 26-year-old Juuse Saros as No. 1, following 12 years with Rinne as the standard-bearer, the elder Finn was wholly supportive of his younger mate. Plus, Rinne provided strong goaltending, winning three straight to help kick-start his team’s charge.
Rinne has 369 career victories, fifth in the hard-cap era behind Marc-Andre Fleury, Lundqvist, Roberto Luongo and Ryan Miller. It would be a good thing for the Rangers if Rinne got to No. 370 wearing the Blueshirt.
Will Lundqvist get a gig at Turner or ESPN if the goaltender is forced to retire before next season? Is that want he would want to do?
But before any decisions are made in that regard, shouldn’t Drury place a call to Lundqvist and invite him to try on a management chapeau? Only the most stylish, of course.
And of course Drury should.
It strikes me how so many advanced stats attempt to measure events by quantifying matters that might have happened or should have happened via mathematical formulas as opposed to events that actually did happen. What else does xGF (expected goals for) attempt to determine?
I find it strange that if a player’s production falls far below his xGF, the immediate fall-back explanation is that he has been “unlucky,” rather than “underachieving.”
We should be so fortunate to get a Toronto-Edmonton second round confrontation that would put the spotlight on a Connor McDavid-Auston Matthews matchup that hopefully will become the next-gen Sidney Crosby versus Alex Ovechkin.
McDavid, who is the one and only reason to accept returning to a schedule under which each team visits every other city at least once, has 104 points with one game to go in the season. That equates to 1.89 points per game, the most in the hard-cap era, which commenced in 2005-06.
Matthews’ 41 goals came at a pace of 0.79 goals per game, tied with Ovechkin’s 2007-08 rate, in which the Washington winger scored 65 goals in 82 matches for the best of the era.
It stands to reason that if these players, with their skill-levels, had played in the 1970s and 1980s, their numbers would have been off the charts matched against comparatively inferior goaltending through an era when backchecking was often an optional exercise and bottoms of lineups were generally suspect.
Matthews’ output of 41 goals leads runner-up McDavid by eight, or 24.24 percent. In 1952-53, Gordie Howe led the league with 49 goals (in 70 games), 17 more than runner-up Ted Lindsay’s 32. That represented a 53.125 percent discrepancy. But that’s not the greatest margin in history.
No, that came in 1990-91 when Brett Hull’s 86 goals were 35 better than tri-runners up Theo Fleury, Cam Neely and Steve Yzerman, representing a staggering 68.63 percent margin.
That’s not something that should have happened. It is something that did happen.
And McDavid’s 104-point output leads runner-up Leon Draisaitl by 21 points, for a 25.3 percent advantage. That is, by the way, less than half the margin posted by Wayne Gretzky in 1985-86 when The Great One’s 215 points were 74 better than Mario Lemieux’s, for a 52.48 percent edge.
The only thing to adjust might be your eyes.
You know how McDavid’s and Matthews’ numbers have produced some raised eyebrows because of the allegedly dramatic inferior defensive play of their opponents in the All-Canadian division?
Well, just noting that there have been 5.86 goals-per-game in that division as opposed to the same 5.86 per in the East, 5.78 per in the West and 5.66 in the Central?
Does the 3.5 percent spread skew matters that much? At all?
OK, so you have all these young centers Emile Francis traded away, but you are awarded a mulligan and get to keep one by unwinding one deal.
Your choices: 1. Red Berenson, traded to St. Louis with Barclay Plager for Ron Stewart and Ron Attwell; 2. Syl Apps, traded to Pittsburgh for Glen Sather; 3. Don Luce, sent to Detroit for Steve Andrascik; 4. Curt Bennett, traded to Atlanta for Ron Harris; 5. Bryan Hextall Jr., selected by California in the expansion draft; 6. Juha Widing, traded to Los Angeles with Real Lemieux for Ted Irvine.
What say you?
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