Hank’s Job: Weathering The Early Storm

December 5, 2011, by

This has been the story for a while: The Rangers come into a game relatively flat –or at least appear that way– and Henrik Lundqvist bails them out. The Rangers get their feet under them, put the puck in the net, play defense, and win the game. It hasn’t been like this in every game, but it’s been like this enough that we aren’t surprised when it happens. But it begs the question: What if Hank doesn’t weather that early storm single handedly?

It’s tough to quantify what exactly would happen with the Rangers if Hank lets in a few of these early goals. But, it’s easy to assume that if the Rangers give up a quick pair of goals in the first ten minutes, the feeling of the game changes completely. This was clearly evident in the game against Washington, when the Caps poured on the pressure early, and Hank was there to keep the puck out of the net. The Rangers won the game 6-3, but would they have scored all six goals if they had to come from behind?

The attitude of this team is that they can come from behind, and they have proven that time and time again. Being behind doesn’t scare them, but it is a helluva lot easier to win games if you’re tied after a 10 minute barrage as opposed to down a goal or two. And that’s where Hank comes in: he may be the most under appreciated best goalie in the world in history (around the NHL…obviously Ranger fans know how valuable he is).

Lundqvist has always been that rock in net that the Rangers continually lean on, especially in the first ten minutes of a game. The Rangers do not make it easy on Hank, but he stands tall in net, and stops shot after shot after shot. The end result: wins, and points in the standings. The Rangers have the best point per game ratio (.717) in the NHL right now. Lundqvist has been the Rangers MVP for the past five seasons. They wouldn’t be here without him. In a season where credit seems to be going everywhere –and for good reason, the real hero here is Lundqvist.

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