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Debunking the myth that Henrik Lundqvist isn’t a great playoff goalie

Chuck Myers/Getty Images

Chuck Myers/Getty Images

For reasons unbeknownst to me, some members of the national media seem to be under the impression that Henrik Lundqvist has been a failure as a playoff goaltender.

I could understand that sentiment a little prior to last season, but a trip to the Eastern Conference Finals in 2012 should have quashed any conversation about Lundqvist’s postseason struggles.

Instead, an ugly stat had been making the rounds – Lundqvist has allowed three or more goals in 29 of his 58 playoff starts – and a suspect goal off the stick of Jason Chimera in Game One brought some of Lundqvist’s old critics out of the woodwork.

The fact is that Lundqvist’s regular season career averages (2.25 GAA, .920 SV%) are nearly identical to his postseason ratios (2.31 GAA, .918 SV%).  That doesn’t matter to many, who measure playoffs by wins and losses alone, but anyone that has watched a Ranger playoff game over the last several seasons should be well aware that Lundqvist has never been the problem.

Over the years opponents have learned that if Lundqvist can see the puck, he will stop it, so Lundqvist must constantly contend with a maze of sticks and bodies in front of his net. To my knowledge there’s no statistic that tracks deflection goals against, but I’d bet any dough that those account for a larger percentage of the goals against Lundqvist than any goalie in the league.

As usual, he’s been under fire in Round One and has held up remarkably well.  Lundqvist was the sole reason the Rangers made it to overtime in a scoreless Game Two, when the Blueshirts were outshot  38-24, and he’s stockpiled highlight reel saves to keep New York close in the other games.

Every goalie gives up a softie once in a while and Lundqvist is no exception, but to argue that Lundqvist has been anything but the backbone of the Blueshirts in the postseason is ludicrous.

As any Rangers fan will tell you, if and when the Blueshirts capture the Stanley Cup, it will assuredly be Lundqvist that receives the Conn Smythe.

17 Responses to “Debunking the myth that Henrik Lundqvist isn’t a great playoff goalie”

  1. The Suit says:

    I really wish someone would have tracked number of quality shots faced or quality shot save percentage all these years. In my opinion, Hank would be on top. I don’t think the guy has had anything less than a terrific post season performance since 2006.

    • Dave says:

      There’s got to be a scoring chance tracker for these games somewhere. It may not be quality shots, but scoring chances is close enough.

      • Mikeyyy says:

        There should be a way to utilize gvt and Corsi in a per game or games with over a goal total vs under.

        Then with gaa and sv %

        Basically saying there should be a way to do that with calcs on what we already know.

  2. Walt says:

    Hank has always held his own in net, it’s the rest of the team that failed him! Let’s face it, play-off games are tight checking games, usually low scoreing, and that is where the team didn’t do their job, scoreing for the man.

  3. PAL says:

    You guys have had some particularly outstanding and thought provoking articles lately. I really like the goal-locator posts on Stepan and Nash. It does seem like strategy could be developed around those articles.

    • Dave says:

      Thanks, much appreciated.

      The goal location posts are great for strategy, specifically PP strategy when we see how effective some guys are in certain locations.

  4. SalMerc says:

    Let me put it this way, if the Pens had Hank, they would be unbeatable.

  5. Walt says:

    I said in the past what low life crap the Pens are, and last night they proved it again. With the game ending, a scrum developes, Malkin start crap, gets punched, he gets one in the face, his team mates come in to hold the Islander player, and Malkin starts throwing upper cuts. That gutless piece of sh*t, was secure knowing that him mates where there to help decides to throw punches, why not before they arrived? It starts from the top, and runs right through the entire organization. Igor sucks!! Did anyone else see this, or were my eyes playing games with me?

  6. Matt Josephs says:

    It all comes down to how much goal support the Rangers give Hank. How many times in the playoffs over his career has Henrik had a two goal lead? Not too many times. How many goals in general have the Rangers given Henrik over his playoff career? Not too many.

    The one and only disadvantage of your goalie being the best player on the team is he himself cannot score goals.

  7. Kevin says:

    Lundqvist, Anttii Niemi and Sergei Bobrovsky are the Vezina Trophy finalists https://twitter.com/Sean_Leahy/status/332132959425527810

  8. Spozo says:

    Hank nominated for the Vezina for the 5 time.

  9. joe719 says:

    We all know how great he is. Unfortunately, in this city, your greatness is measured in championships. Until he holds that Cup in the air, people will always say he can’t win the big one. If you would put him on Pittsburgh, or those great Detroit teams, he would become a legend!

  10. Chris_in_MA says:

    “To my knowledge there’s no statistic that tracks deflection goals against, but I’d bet any dough that those account for a larger percentage of the goals against Lundqvist than any goalie in the league.”

    Kevin, I have been saying this for YEARS!

    I had kinda ‘accepted’ the fact that I must just be crazy and putting my NYR blinders on and that it must be the same for every other goalie (even though my eyes tell me otherwise).

    Just wanted to say thank you for making my day just a little bit better.

    • Kevin says:

      Haha I’ve resisted using that argument because it’s such a homer thing to say, but I’m completely convinced it’s true.

      • Chris_in_MA says:

        Yeah, 100% agree. Ive been tempted to start tracking it myself… but I like to actually enjoy watching the games… and Im far too lazy to look it up after the fact, haha.

  11. JTC says:

    Another dimension to those stats – the quality of competition is so much higher in the playoffs. Regular season stats include games against the cellar dwellers, so for a goalie to have regular season numbers in the playoffs is impressive.

  12. Omghenrikkkk says:

    Gives up three goals in the first ten minutes of game 5 at home conf finals vs the nj devils. So clutch