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Lundqvist proving doubters wrong

When the playoffs started this year, many blogs and writers in the media were questioning the Rangers and their ability to perform as a top seed. It wasn’t because of their skill or style of play, but it was because Henrik Lundqvist “wasn’t a playoff goalie.” Their claims weren’t that far fetched, as his stats in the playoffs did take a bit of a nosedive in the past few postseasons. Only that seven game series against Washington in 2009 stands out as a series where Lundqvist carried them.

This year is different. This year Lundqvist is different. But most imporantly, the supporting cast for Lundqvist is different.

Prior to this season, the Rangers had tremendous roster turnover from season to season, sometimes reaching as high as 10 players. The Rangers were rebuilding, but because of some shrewd moves and the goaltending of The King, the Rangers were a playoff team. The teams weren’t necessarily built to succeed in the playoffs, and it showed. They lacked skill, speed, toughness, grit, physicallity, and a scoring touch. Those are a lot of holes for a goaltender to fill, even if he is the best in the world.

This year is different. The roster didn’t turnover too much. The Rangers have an identity as a physical, hard working team that will play defense. Lundqvist no longer needs to stand on his head every single game for the Rangers to win. More importantly, the addition of Martin Biron has led to a more rested Lundqvist. A rested Lundqvist is a better Lundqvist, and it shows.

Last night was a microcosm of the way Lundqvist has played in the first three games of this series. People will point to allowing five goals in the first two games, and say he has been mediocre. Those are people that aren’t watching the games, and are just noting the final score.

Lundqvist has not allowed a single shot to beat him. He has been beat by deflections and bad breaks. Everyone was up in arms when he allowed three goals in Game Two. But as Suit noted in the breakdown post one was a deflection, and the others were bad bounces or defensive breakdowns that benefited the Senators with open nets.

Ottawa has had a minimum of 32 shots on goal in each of the first three games this series, and a total of 103 shots on goal. Lundqvist has stopped all but five of them this series. That gives him an incredible .951 SV% in this series. It’s not like these are easy shots either. The Senators owned the Rangers in the past two games, and many of these have been high quality shots from the slot. That save on Kyle Turris last night in the final minute was just one of the many difficult saves Lundqvist has made.

The haters and the doubters said Hank couldn’t perform in the postseason. He said he could never carry a team on his back. Well guess what? That’s exactly what he’s doing right now.

19 Responses to “Lundqvist proving doubters wrong”

  1. Chuck A. says:

    It’s 3-0 without three fluky goals.

  2. Section 121 says:

    The number of opportunities for the Sens in the last two games is what scares me. As good as Lundy is, relying on him too much can’t be a good thing.

    • Dave says:

      The Sens were a scary matchup. I hate to say it, but they lucked out with the Alfie injury.

      • The Suit says:

        I think Hank is going to have to steal a game here and there throughout the postseason, but I agree. We need to be better in our end if we are going to be playing in May and beyond.

        • Walt says:

          Suit

          Again, with the lead, they sit back and let the Sens attack! This crap has to stop, keep attacking them, that is the best defense, a good offense!

          • The Suit says:

            Well you didn’t say the word trap, or make this a systems/coaching thing, so I guess I can’t argue with you. But yes, this team needs to be better in their own zone.

  3. VinceR says:

    Great post. I had to admit I was a little worried after the last month of the season, but I figured he could pick it up. He just seemed to have that extra focus this year that really made it seem he would pick up his game for the playoffs. I’m sure the rest helped.

  4. Matt J says:

    I made a similar post about how people call Lundqvist “a choker” on bluelinestation. The main reason why Lundqvist failed in other playoffs were lack of goals.

    In 08-09 against the caps the team scored 12 goals in 7 games. Think about that. In the 7 previous post-season series post-lockout, the rangers scored 80 goals in 36 games while being shutout 6 times.

    Henrik has had pretty average numbers but considering the teams he had in front of him, they were very good. There was a time when Lundqvist had guys like Paul Mara, Roszival, Tyutin, Strudwick, and WADE REDDEN playing defense in front of him.

  5. The Suit says:

    Other than the 05-06 series against the Devils, Hank has played extremely well in the post season. His numbers may not reflect that, but people forget how many odd man rushes we used to give up back in the Renney era, which is funny since Renney was known as a hybrid trap coach.

    Hank is the best the goalie in the world and has been for quite sometime. Anyone who doesn’t recognize that, doesn’t watch him often enough to realize it.

    • Al says:

      Although its not Stanley Cup playoffs, people seem to forget that Lundqvist has been a beast everytime he has played in the Olympics and WC for Sweden. He’s the best goalie in the world, both in regular and post season.

  6. Justin says:

    Great post Dave. It’s all about context. Up until this year, the Ranger teams Hank stood behind had no real business calling themselves contenders.

    • Dave says:

      Thanks.

      I think that’s the biggest point people miss. Hank made the Rangers a playoff team back then. Now it’s the team making itself a playoff team.

      • MBN says:

        Dave, I agree. Hank made the Rangers a playoff team back then. Now, he makes them a Cup contender.

      • Walt says:

        Dave

        Back then???
        Lets face it, without Hank, we may have been in 6, 7, or 8th place. We sure as heck would not have finished ahead of the Flyers, Pens, or even possibly the Devils. The man is GREAT!!!!!

  7. eddie says:

    Honestly i dont know who ever doubted the king?! i never did and i see no reason why anyone woulD! did a good blog with some great pics for all the games for wed on my site so come check it out! http://hockeyreflections.com/2012/04/sports-betting-strategy-for-wednesday-nhl-playoff-games/

  8. sarahe says:

    I love the guy, but intill he wins the cup, he just the heir. Sorry, but till then, a Rickter scale is still number 1.