Henrik Lundqvist Has Been Validated and Other Thoughts

There were 204 names called before Henrik Lundqvist’s in the 2000 NHL Draft. The Rangers took an 18-year-old Lundqvist in the seventh round with the 205th of the 293 total picks in the draft.

Here are the goalies selected before Lundqvist with the round they were selected in, their overall pick number and the amount of NHL games they played in parentheses.

1/1. New York Islanders – Rick DiPietro (315)

1/9. Calgary – Brent Krahn (1)

2/44. Anaheim – Ilya Bryzgalov (385)

2/45. Ottawa – Matthieu Chouinard (1)

2/60. Dallas – Dan Ellis (165)

3/70. Toronto – Mikael Tellqvist (114)

3/84. Pittsburgh -Peter Hamerlik (0)

3/90. Toronto – Jean-Francois Racine (0)

4/102. Detroit – Stefan Liv (0)

4/111. Buffalo – Ghyslain Rousseau (0)

4/116. Calgary – Levente Szuper (0)

4/120. Florida – Davis Parley (0)

5/143. New York Rangers – Brandon Snee (0)

5/164. New Jersey – Matus Kostur (0)

5/165.  Los Angeles – Nathan Marsters (0)

5/166. San Jose – Nolan Schaefer (7)

6/168. Atlanta – Zdenek Smid (0)

6/169. Columbus – Shane Bendera (0)

6/177. Chicago – Mike Ayers (0)

7/203. Nashville – Jure Penko (0)

The amazing thing about this list isn’t that Lundqvist was the 21st goalie selected in his class or that 15 of the goalies picked before him played either one or no games in the NHL. The amazing thing is that the Rangers picked a goalie before Lundqvist in the draft with Brandon Snee at the 143rd pick. Snee had just finished his sophomore season at Union College where he was 8-22-1 with a 3.82 GAA and .892 save percentage after a freshman season in which he went 1-12-3 with a 3.50 GAA and .892 save percentage (and he’s 22 months older than Lundqvist.) Snee ended up playing 12 games in the UHL, 13 games in the ECHL and 12 in the WHA2.

There really isn’t a silver lining to a season that ends two wins short of a trip to the Stanley Cup Final at the hands of your rival in overtime, but I really do think watching Lundqvist win the Vezina on Wednesday night is one for Rangers fans.

I have been telling non-Rangers fans who don’t get to see Lundqvist on a regular basis how talented he is since the 2005-06 season, and it wasn’t really until this season and this postseason that he started to get the recognition and credit he has deserved for seven years. Even though Lundqvist had a better GAA this season (1.97) than last season (2.28) and a better save percentage this season (.929) than last season (.923), I think his performance over 68 games last year was better than his performance in 62 games this year. Yes, the Rangers were the best team in the Eastern Conference in 2011-12 because of him, but he kept the Rangers alive until Game 82 in 2010-11 playing every game from Feb. 7 through the playoffs, and posting three more shutouts (11) than he did this year (8).

Unintelligent people would use Lundqvist’s postseason record entering this spring and his postseason overtime record as a flaw in his abilities. They would cite the Rangers’ three first-round exits and two second-round exits with him as a reason for him to be just “hype.” No one cared to mention his surrounding cast, the Rangers’ lack of scoring during his career or the team’s young and inexperienced defense. On Wednesday night it felt like all of these misconceptions were finally erased.

Lundqvist thanked his teammates and said he wouldn’t be standing up there accepting the award without them. He thanked the entire Rangers organization and even Mr. Dolan for the last seven years. But really it would have made more sense to the have the rest of the Rangers, the front office and Mr. Dolan on the stage thanking Lundqvist because without him they wouldn’t be relevant again.

***

After what happened to the Red Sox in September I didn’t think things could get better as a Yankees fan. And by “better” I mean watching my arch-nemesis continue to be an embarrassment.

First it was Buster Olney reporting that the clubhouse was toxic on ESPN.com and now it’s Sean McAdam of CSNNE.com saying the same thing. Olney’s report was refuted by Josh Beckett, and I’m sure that McAdam’s will be too.

Beckett said Olney’s report is “completely fabricated” and said he doesn’t know where people get their information, and that the 2012 Red Sox are “one of the tightest-knit groups” he’s ever seen. But Beckett can tell me about the team’s family outings together like he told reporters on Tuesday, and he can even show me pictures of his family and the Valentines and the Lesters and the Pedroias on a joint vacation to Disney World if he wants, and I still won’t believe him. There’s a reason everyone is talking about the Red Sox’ internal problems and that’s because they exist. And I love every second of it.

When the Red Sox blew Game 162 and missed the playoffs for the second straight year, and Terry Francona and Theo Epstein left, and Larry Lucchino tightened his marionette strings on John Henry and Ben Cherington to bring in Bobby Valentine, I hoped the recipe for disaster that the Red Sox front office was creating would turn out to be just that. But I never thought it would be this much of a disaster.

We’re 42 percent of the way through the season and the Red Sox are two games over .500 and six games back of the Yankees. Most Red Sox fans have chalked this season up as lost and are counting down the days until the Patriots’ season opener. Those who haven’t given up are holding out hope for the Red Sox to appear in the one-game playoff and are citing the return of the Carl Crawford as a positive sign. The same Carl Crawford who posted a .255/.289/.405 line last year and apologized to fans midseason in his personal blog on ESPNBoston.com.

Aside from the clubhouse issues, Daniel Nava has the second-best OPS on the team, and Scott Podsednik is getting starts, while Jason Repko, Che-Hsuan Lin, Nate Spears and Mauro Gomez have all made appearances. Beckett is injured again, Jon Lester hasn’t been close to the pitcher that Dennis Eckersley has picked to win the Cy Young every year since 2008, Clay Buchholz has five quality starts in 14 games and Daisuke Matsuzaka doesn’t look like the best No. 5 starter in the history of baseball like NESN proclaimed he was last year. The best Red Sox starting pitcher has been Felix Doubront (8-3, 4.31) and one of their original rotation members, Daniel Bard, is blowing two-run save opportunities in Triple-A as he tries to transition back to the bullpen.

I never thought things could get this good for me and this bad for the Red Sox even when anonymous sources were snitching on the Red Sox’ chicken and beer problems and John Henry was making a public fool of himself on afternoon drive radio in Boston. I realize that all good things must come to an end at some point, but I hope this good thing can last the rest of the season.

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