Henrik Lundqvist: Better Than the Numbers?
The New York Rangers are on a hot streak coming from the thrilling come-from-behind win against the Vegas Golden Knights. The 6-4 win; while some saw it to be meaningless; actually symbolized the season perfectly.
How often, if ever, can a goalie surrender four goals and be the best player on the ice? One could go as far as saying Henrik Lundqvist stole the game for the Rangers, and he still gave up four goals.
The ability to be a top three goalie is no longer the case for Hank, but no goalie can win on their own. The numbers on Lundqvist do not tell the whole story of a 35 year old goaltender refusing to show his age.
When I wrote my expectations for Ryan McDonagh and Kevin Shattenkirk I said that it doesn’t matter how much you score but how often you can stop the other team. No game will ever epitomize this more than game two of the season against the Toronto Maple Leafs; for a team to score five goals and lose is borderline unbelievable.
Lundqvist left after the 1st period where he conceded five Leaf goals. While that sounds like a bad start only one goal, two at most, were Lundqvist’s fault. The defense needs to step up their game in front of Hank, by cleaning the front of the net to allow Hank to see the shot, to SAFELY BREAKING THE PUCK OUT OF THEIR ZONE all aspects have to be better.
Starting every period against the Golden Knights saw heavy Rangers offensive pressure. In the first and second period the team seemed to take their foot off the gas and thus allowing VGK to take control. After many unbelievable saves and two periods the scoreboard read 4-2 VGK and it legitimately could have been 7-2.
Without help Lundqvist will; on paper; struggle this season. When he gets help like he did late against the Edmonton Oilers; Lundqvist will make saves.
By the Numbers
Statistically Lundqvist ranks 21st in save percentage for starting goalies (.905). Taking just this stat it would seem that Lundqvist is having a very bad season. In reality he his propelling the team to resurgence. He faces the fifth highest number of shots in the league and has a sub-three goals against average. To simply put it the numbers on paper do not acknowledge the saves Lundqvist has made at key spots. The aforementioned VGK game inflated the numbers when in reality no. 30 stole that win for the team. There’s more to the goalies play the numbers.
The New Scapegoat
Over the summer I wrote about the expectations for both goalies. It’s clear that Lundqvist is still capable of being a reliable number one goalie. After the win against Arizona Ondrej Pavelec got the next start against Montreal. Many speculated that it was AV playing the ‘hot hand’. When realistically at that point Lundqvist (at age 35) had played in 9 of the team’s 11 games to start the season.
Now that the team has rattled off six consecutive wins things are looking up in New York. It all started with the win against VGK and the effort by Lundqvist. The team and their goaltender have found their mojo. While playing the best hockey of this early season no. 30 is leading the charge.
To start the season Henrik looks strong and mobile. Often a scapegoat, the slow start cannot be blamed on No. 30. The entire team in front of him needs to continue to play smarter in front of him. The stats may not be glamorous but Lundqvist can do one thing, and that is keep the Rangers competitive in games.