Steve Zipay at Newsday gave his first-half awards for the New York Rangers, who currently sit atop the Eastern Conference.
Zipay named Henrik Lundqvist the team’s MVP, Marian Gaborik comeback player, Ryan Callahan role-model and Michael Del Zotto most improved.
Hard to argue with any of Zip’s picks. This team is no where without Lundqvist, especially earlier in the season when he was bailing them game after game. He’s arguably having the best season of his career, and it’s paying off with the team’s success.
Gaborik has already eclipsed last year’s goal total with 23 tallies this year. He’s confident with the puck and making things happen night after night. Is he healthier than last season? It’s possible, but I think the biggest attribute to his success has been Brad Richards, who takes a lot of the pressure off him to perform.
There’s no question Callahan is the role-model of this team, and really the organization. The team is molded after the way he plays, throwing himself in front of shots, finishing checks and doing the hard-work it takes to be successful on each shift. Most fans didn’t like him, but Chris Drury really left his imprint on Callahan, and he’s blossomed.
Del Zotto has done a complete 360 from last season when he was shipped off to the AHL after losing his game after a great rookie season. He’s rid his game of the bone-headed home run passes in favor of safer, more effective dishes from the start of the season. His play in his own end and physical presence on the ice have made him one of the Rangers’ most reliable defensemen. He took advantage of the chance give to him by Marc Staal‘s injury.