Believe it or not, we're quickly approaching the final game of the season at MSG against the Devils on April 27th. Prior to the game, as has been tradition since 1988, former NY policeman Steven McDonald will speak and give out his Extra Effort Award, given out to the individual who "goes above and beyond the call of duty." Defensive stalwart Jan Erixon was the first to win the award in 1988. Adam Graves has won the award five times, more than any other player. Ryan Callahan was last year's winner and has won the award three times. Voting has begun for this year's award, so let's review some players who might be worthy of being the 2013 winner.
Ryan Callahan: We should start with the incumbent. Captain Cally is the epitome of what this team wants to be. He leads by example every game and never takes a shift off. Despite suffering what appeared to be a severe shoulder injury during a fight with Flyers forward Max Talbot, Callahan caught a break and fought through pain to return only three days later. He's third on the team in goals, fourth in points, second in hits, and first in blocked shots among forwards.
Henrik Lundqvist: He has won the award once, during the 2005-2006 season. Hank has gone "above and beyond" just about every season in his career, and this season is no different. Despite one of the worst ranking offenses in the NHL, Lundqvist has kept the Rangers in almost every game he has started. It's often stated but never overstated; this team would be in a scary place without probably the best goaltender of the last five years anchoring them. He has started 35 of the team's 40 games so far this season and his 2.12 GAA and .926 Save % are the second best of his career, only beat by last year's Vezina-winning totals.
Dan Girardi: Dan has had a rough go of things this season. This is probably in part because he's played banged up, if not injured, for a lot of the time. In a game against the Habs that the Rangers were already losing 3-0, the Rangers were on the penalty kill and Girardi blocked a shot with his foot. Girardi was practically unable to stand up and had to be helped off the ice. Like Callahan, the injury looked severe, but x-rays came back negative and Girardi did not miss a game despite significant bruising. He leads the Rangers in time on ice per game, hits, and blocked shots.
Derek Stepan: There's not much debate about who this season's most improved player is. Despite an awful start to the campaign, Stepan has stepped up immensely at the center position while Richards and Boyle have been lost for long stretches. His 14 goals and 34 points are only second to Rick Nash. He's 16th out of all centers in the NHL in points, ahead of guys like Mikko Koivu, David Kreijci, Mike Richards, and Logan Couture. He's also improved his defensive game and has been assigned to take key defensive zone faceoffs. While many of the team's top guns have failed to show up at times, Stepan has been, as Tortorella put it, possible the team's "most consistent player."
Not a very clear-cut choice, such as in the years of Jed Ortmeyer or more recently Ryan Callahan. All four deserve to be in the conversation, though I think it should come down to Lundqvist, who has stayed mentally strong while most others were sulking and put the team on his back, or Stepan, who has surpassed even more optimistic expectations and banging on the door of top-flight centers. Or maybe you think it's someone not even on my list. Let us know in the comments section and go vote!
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The King would get my vote with Step a very close runner up - Cally still in the running, with 2 weeks to go it's pretty even
Collectively, this year's Rangers look more like they need to make an extra effort. Too often they seem to have a low compete level, they come on to the ice without passion. Individually, everyone has had their high points and their low points.
Early in the season fans speculated that Hank had "gone Hollywood" in response to his Sports Center commercials and his bigger profile in general. After a slow start, Hank has been the man, once again, and has carried this team at times. Callahan is probably the best at jump starting the team, giving them a spark with a big play. He plays as hard as anybody. Stepan has become a reliable Center before our eyes (for all those who think Tortorella doesn't know how to develop the kids) and he's contributing in all areas.
The Steven McDonald Award is meant to recognize Extra Effort on and off the ice. It seems like there's not as many charitable deeds and events in this lockout-shortened season.
I agree there's no clear winner. So far I can't decide.
Stepan, he literally does everything for the team... Pk, pp, and he is their best if not second best offensive player, and the most consistent on the team
I would have given it to Hagelin if he didn't fall off a bit in the last couple of weeks. He was everywhere during most of the season, skating like an animal, causing chaos. I voted for ludnqvist thou. Stephan has been our most consistent player but I that doesn't necissarely mean he gives more effort than others. Lundqvist just based on how hard he tries to win every game for us.
Step's been there best player, but as I understand the award, it goes not to the team MVP but the guy who "leaves it all out there and battles through adversity most consistently". From that standpoint, I think Lundqvist deserves the award this year. Callahan and Girardit are worth choices, but Lundqvist has been playing brilliantly with headaches / severe fatigue and hasn't really had a break. When was the last time they played Biron? can't even remember.
Hank's our biggest horse this year. he deserves the salute.
I voted Nash because I felt he's been the only Ranger this season to show passion and determination in every game this season!
@TheNYRBlog vote for the islanders!
I think you have to go Cally. Overall, he's been the most consistent. Stepan would be a close 2nd...
When this team was struggling hardbody I brought up that there was no clear cut winner...and not in a good way. I'm still not convinced there is one now.
I voted for Step. I don't think we're in the playoff race without him, although the same can be said for Hank.
BTW, I think Steven McDonald is a cop, not a firefighter.
@cb1 Yes, for some reason the article hasn't edited yet, but he was a cop.