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.