Marty Brodeur may have had to have his best season to keep this Devils club stay in mix this year. His defense is a shell of it's championship days ,with two former devils d man winning cups in back to back years. Congrats to Scott Niedermayer and this years champ Brian Rafalski, good job Lou. With the likes of Rangers give away Karel Rachunek and Jonnie O' umm you better not on their blue line, Marty may have had his first true goaltending test in years. With a new coach in Brent Sutter and minus a few key forwards too,Marty managed to get 4 shutouts out of his team. But those 4 shutouts are an extreme drop off from the 12 he had last year with his wins down and his losses up.
On the other side of the Hudson is Henrik Lundqvist, a now 3 time Vezina finalist. The Swedish netminder has been nominated 3 years in a row,and should have at least one Vezina to hang his gold medal on. In his rookie year his performance was vital in bringing the Rangers back into the playoffs.His actions would go unrewarded as Miikka Kiprosoff would take home the cake in 06.Maybe NHL brass feared giving the honored trophy to a rookie. But unlike other rookies who would win Vezina trophies in their rookie campaigns ( Jim Carey) and crashed in the next year or so, Hank may be in the mold of an Eddie Belfour. The former Blackhawk would walk off his national team and in his rookie year set records for wins by a rookie for the club and for the NHL. With in a few years Eddie would take his team to the Stanley Cup Finals.
Lundqvist's sophomore campaign would be a true test for the net minder as he would not only have to deal with the previous years playoff dive vs. the Devils,but the upcoming Olympic games.Hank would battle through migraine headaches and would take the Rangers to first place in mid-winter. With most of the club headed off to international play the team backpedaled into the post season,but the Rangers goalie did it with a Gold medal on his neck. Even though the Rangers lost in the playoffs, the team and it's goaltender showed vast improvement.Unlike the year before, Lundqvist would suffocate his first round foe Atlanta and nearly deafeated the Sabres if it had not been for 7 seconds.Come late June # 30 was passed over by Marty Brodeur and his season of records and PR dreams. The Good old Boys club showed up again,handing the trophy to the other # 30.
This year Lunqvist's numbers improved even more beating team records for shutouts,walking away with 10.The 26 year old not only battled on the ice but off of it as well,as his father had brain surgery mid season.Despite an understandable slide with his family issues,Hank again would take the Rangers back into the big show for a shot at Stanley. How ironic he would play Marty Broduer in the first round. After Lundqvist would lose in his rookie campaign with Jersey's 4-0 sweep,and last year in the Vezina race.Accept this year, we would see a changing of the guard in NY area keepers. Hank would defeat Martin Brodeur 7-1 with the one loss in a meaningless shootout the last game of the season. Round 1 saw some of the best goaltending I've ever scene,but it was only in Red,White,and Blue. Lundqvist was a You Tube dream making split saves on Devils forwards and shutting the door on John Madden and his questionable penalty shot. Hank not only took MAD DOG off his leash,but simply over powered the other # 30 across the ice. Martin looked tired and old,giving up lazy goals such as Ryan Callahan's game one winner.But last night we saw the good old boys club take over again handing over the Vezina to the wrong # 30. It's clear the NHL brass may not be ready try something new. They stick with hamburgers instead of sushi and every year its becoming old hat. If not for Hank then Nabokov should have been rewarded for his iron man performance. Evgeni's 77 games played and 46 wins are amazing,but even better was his stamina in the playoffs vs. Dallas. If Robert Downey passes on a sequel maybe the shark from Kazakhstan will take it on. Broduer's attitude and his demand to play the majority of the games only hurt his team.He was shot come playoff time and the truth of the matter is he should not have won the Vezina,his and the NHL act are just PLAYED OUT!