71° Good Afternoon
71° Good Afternoon

Rangers midseason awards, second-half predictions

Marc Staal

Marc Staal Photo Credit: Rebecca Taylor/MSG Photos

Some thoughs on the Rangers at the midway mark:

MVP: Marc Staal. He’ll be 24 in a couple days, but he’s playing and leading like a 10-year veteran. Eighth in the NHL in ice time (25:29 a game), tops among Ranger defensemen with six goals, a healthy plus-9 logging all those minutes, adding power-play time to his duties this season... I wrote earlier this year that Ryan Callahan stood out as the next Rangers captain. Amending that: Staal is the guy.

Top forward: Brandon Dubinsky. He was not a favorite of John Tortorella’s for the bulk of last season -- the coach felt Dubinsky got a little too big-headed after a good game -- but that’s gone now. Dubinsky, spurred on by Callahan early on, has been hard-nosed and hard-edged to go with his scoring talents. He’s here to stay, provided the contract demands this summer aren’t too big.

Top goaltender: Henrik. He could easily be the team’s MVP, as he’s been just about every year he’s been a Ranger. The five shutouts through the first half are impressive; so is a 2.33 goals-against that had ballooned early on. He’ll be as rested as he’s ever been for the second half, too.

Biggest surprise: Brian Boyle. It isn’t just the 14 goals, though that’s certainly a shock. It’s the plus-9 rating, tied for tops among all Ranger forwards. It’s the penalty-killing, the forechecking, the consistency -- things Boyle never showed before. In essence, he’s become a bigger, younger version of Chris Drury: Defense and forechecking first, with some clutch goals thrown in.

Biggest disappointment: Michael Del Zotto. He’s hardly become a forgotten player, despite being in Hartford for the time being. At 20, he still has plenty to learn about the NHL game and about being a Ranger playing for Tortorella, who demands a ton. That the Rangers are going fine without him should be a reminder to Del Zotto that the time for working through your funks is over, for now.

Predictions for the second half: Mats Zuccarello sticks around with the big club the rest of the way and finishes with a dozen goals and plenty of new fans... The Rangers try and swing a trade for Ed Jovanovski but won’t part with any key prospects, and the deadline passes with only a minor trade or two... Wojtek Wolski, just acquired, does not click with Marian Gaborik and will be an enigma of Zherdevian proportions into the offseason... Gaborik finishes with a team-high 31 goals on a strong second-half push... Lundqvist plays 65 games, fewest since his rookie season... The Rangers finish with 102 points, good for fifth in the East... They beat the Flyers in a thrilling, six-game series in the first round, then fall short in six games to the Bruins in the Eastern Conference semis.


We're revamping our Comments section. Learn more and share your input.

New York Sports