Could this become Henrik Lundqvist’s signature season?

Henrik Lundqvist is 14th on the all-time wins list and could move into the top 10 this season
Henrik Lundqvist is 14th on the all-time wins list and could move into the top 10 this season

Despite convincing data that Henrik Lundqvist remained at the top of his game last season, there has been growing chatter that Lundqvist is no longer among the game’s elite netminders.

“He’s dropped off a little bit for me,” an NHL scout told ESPN’s Craig Custance. “I hate to say it, but I think he’s on the backside of things now.”

There are likely a few reasons for the number of growing doubters:

1) Lundqvist is now 34 years old, an age when most athletes have begun a steep decline.

2) Lundqvist posted a pedestrian 2.48 GAA last season, the highest of his career.

3) The Blueshirts flamed out in the postseason and Lundqvist looked decidedly average on national television against the Penguins.

4) To borrow from The Dark Knight, “You either die a hero, or you live long enough to see yourself become the villain.” Lundqvist has been so good, for so long that he’s old news and the hockey world long ago began searching for the next best thing.

The title of Greatest Goalie Alive currently belongs to Carey Price. But the 2016-2017 campaign may offer Lundqvist’s best chance at a signature season that solidifies his place in NHL history.

Of course, to go down as one of the greats in many fans’ eyes, Lundqvist needs to lead the Rangers to a Stanley Cup. But even without capturing the ultimate prize Lundqvist may still have a unique opportunity to help his case for legend status.

In building this year’s roster, GM Jeff Gorton apparently decided to experiment with a novel strategy: “Score a ton of goals and let the goalie figure out the rest.”

For possibly any keeper in the league other than Price, that plan would be met with disastrous results. Lundqvist has been under that kind of pressure routinely in his career, but with his rare talent it might garner even more attention this season if the Blueshirts make a run.

The rest of the hockey world outside the Big Apple bubble is now painfully aware of how inept the Rangers defense is thanks to the rise of #fancystats and particularly scathing indictments by analysts like TSN’s Travis Yost that have opened eyes to Lundqvist’s continuously heroic solo efforts in net.

Lundqvist is not off to a great start statistically, but Saturday’s Herculean effort against Washington was solid evidence of his ongoing ability to withstand an onslaught from the NHL’s most potent firepower and still emerge victorious.

Can he keep that up for five more months, plus a playoff run? If so, this could go down as one of The King’s crowing achievements and change public perception in his favor once again as Lundqvist enters the twilight of his incredible career.

"Could this become Henrik Lundqvist's signature season?", 4 out of 5 based on 14 ratings.
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  1. He is better than average. If we score near the top and our PP is top 10 an our PK is top 10 and our defense can be at least middle of the pack, we will be just fine.

    Now, if Gorton finds a top tier D, he can juggle 4 defenseman for the 3rd periods and hold on for dear life. We do have 4 bottom pair defenseman that can match any team.

  2. Stats are a funny thing. They can sway arguments based on how they are presented. If you look at GAA and save % from last year and you compare them to other years for the King, they don’t look great.

    But let’s look deeper. The King led the league in 5 on 5 save %. He faced the most shots by any goalie playing more than 50 games. He faced, by far, the most high danger scoring chances in the league last year.

    It was the PK that killed the King’s stats as we all know how awful the Rangers were in that dept.

    Is he at the top of his game this year? Maybe not or at least that has yet to be determined. But the King at 90% is still better than 90% of the goalies in the league and the Rangers will eventually sink or swim on his level of play.

    1. No idea how/why this has 4 thumbs down. I guess for some folks, GAA and total save % is the only goalie stats they want to hear? Excellent points Richter – simply put, there was no better goalie at full strength last year. Let us also not forget that even at full strength, the defense was a dumpster fire and AV was pouring on gasoline in the form of bonehead usage (which, sadly, is continuing still – as evidenced by Nick Holden, top pair RHD…when he’s actually a third pair LHD/depth talent). Simply put, Hank was shelled last year because of his defense and his coach (and to a degree his GM, although I honestly think there was just little Gorton could do over the summer with such a mess). This year figures to be no different, unfortunately.

  3. Lundqvist is not off to a great start statistically, but Saturday’s Herculean effort against Washington was solid evidence of his ongoing ability to withstand an onslaught from the NHL’s most potent firepower and still emerge victorious.

    The statement is right on, can he sustain this type of a performance??? I say he could, given support from both the defense, and the forwards making an effort to help defend. I also suspect that Hank could do much better if given time off, rather than try to play him some 65-70 games per season.

    Being the realist that I am, I also suspect Hank is slowing down, and may not be able to give us the type of play we’ve been accustomed to. Father time cuts no one any slack, and Hank is no exception. The only thing I hope for is if he is in his downward spiral, let it be gradual, nothing like we are seeing with some of our defenders !!!!!!!!!!!!!!

          1. Nor are you, always taking cheap shots at people. If you don’t like what I post, don’t bother reading it, and we both will be better for it!!!!!!!!!!!!

  4. Kevin, you asked the question can Hank keep up a Herculean effort for 5 months plus a playoff run? I’m not smart enough to know that answer, but anyone can see how Hank fades towards the end of the season and into the playoffs. All one has to do is look at the long run to the finals where Hank was stellar. He didn’t look tired and there was only one reason for that. He had a forced extended rest due to an injury.
    We have a very capable backup in Raanta. Hank should NEVER play two games of a back to back. AV said he wanted to lighten Hank’s workload this year, so logic dictates AV finally realizes what the rest of the league has known for quite some time.
    Yet this past weekend AV decides that, “oh what the heck, it’s early”. Yogi said “it gets late early”, AV should pay attention……………………….

    1. I agree Hank should get more nights off, and furthermore, it’s not as though Raanta is some scrub that can’t be relied on. He’s an excellent backup – I’d say one of the most talented backups in the league – who would be starting on some teams right now (Boston probably would love to have Raanta in their current situation, as one example).

  5. I’m pretty sure the year Hank was hurt and had time off was when we lost to Tampa in game 7 of the conference finals. I was expecting Raanta to play against the Coyotes the other night too but maybe AV wanted Hank to get a little more work in against a team that we should get our share of goals on anyway. (Although we didn’t really. Only scored 3 and it took a game winning shot from Girardi to win it.) You know how often that happens. I’m sure there’s a reason but it’s early so I don’t worry about it so much anyway. I’ve noticed Hank is giving up goals on his blocker side that were quick wrist shots that just beat him. It’s funny we’ve seen n heard how Hank has slow starts yet last year he was the whole reason we were winning in the first 20 games. He was making unbelievable saves every game it seemed. Now this year where he played in the World Cup before the season started he’s having a slow start. I’m sure he will figure things out and be back to form. He’s got a great goalie coach.
    Raanta will probably play 20 to 25 games this year is what AV said he’s gonna play him.

    1. Not playing Raanta against Arizona is just another bad decision by you-know-who. Very simple:

      King just played in the World Cup.
      It’s October.
      It was a back to back off of a very grueling game.
      The opponent on the back end was a soft one.

      Why is this so hard?

    2. I couldnt agree more. I was so disappointed in the long term decision making (which makes a big difference in a compressed season) Sunday night. If Raanta doesnt play on the second night of a back to back after a HUGE win against a division rival with a bottom feeder team coming to town then why do we have him???

  6. I get very frustrated by the fans that put the Rangers’ lack of a Cup at the feet of the King. Because I believe that the only reason they have had a chance at the Cup was/is because of the King.

    The Tampa Bay series in 2015, 4 goals in 4 home games. If you told me that that would be the case before the series then I would tell you that the Rangers would be in the 2015 SCF. They lost in 7.

    Was that the King’s fault? In the last 5 years the Rangers have been in the playoffs only 2 players have either played as well in the playoffs or just as well in the playoffs as in the regular season: The King and Brassard. Not Nash, not Zuc, not any of the other “stars” of the team.

    It’s so dam easy to blame the goalie for losses. But geez, look at what’s gong on in front of him to make an informed comment or opinion. If the goalie faces 5 breakaways and stops 4 of them then that’s an .800 save % which brings out the negative comments from the fans, never mind that there were 5 breakaways.

      1. The anti-Lundqvist sentiment is mind boggling. He’s a top 10 Ranger of all time IMO, and maybe even top 5. He’s a HOF lock and if you put him on Chicago they win the Cup even more often then they have.

        Yes, his contract, but he has earned every penny of it, unlike others who do not live up to their contracts. Get a top righty D on this team, make some changes in the D corps, and the Rangers contend this year, IMO.

        1. No maybe about it, Richter1994, Hank is easily a Top 5 Ranger, and should be in serious consideration for the title of Best Ranger of All-Time.

          I’m only 38 and in my lifetime the best Ranger I had ever seen was Brian Leetch. Hank has surpassed him, and that’s not a knock on my favorite player ever, Leetch, it’s a testament to the greatness that is Hank.

          Now, my question to the guys who have seen a lot more years of Rangers Hockey than I have, are there any Rangers that you would put ahead of Leetch or Hank?

          1. Rod Gilbert
            Brian leetch
            Mike gartner
            Jaromir jagr
            Mike richter
            Mark messier
            Eddie giacomin
            Brad park
            Jean ratelle
            Andy bathgate
            Harry Howell.

            Dude no cup. No go for the top 10.

            Playing in nyr country is a bitch.

          2. Only 3 players on your list have a Cup as a Ranger.

            Is playing in nyr country a bitch because a large segment of the fans are uninformed?

          3. Everyone on your list with the exception of Leetch, Messier, & Richter never won a Cup with NYR.

            Mike Gartner was a Ranger for 3 1/2 seasons–how do you compare him to Lundqvist? Ed Giacomin? 4 seasons as a full timer, 4 in platoon with other goalies–not really a good comparison and that’s before you get to GAA etc. Jagr is a mercenary, Brad Park is one of the most overrated players of his generation–Hank plays 60+ games a year, carries this team on a semi-regular basis….yet you see fit to call Park the more significant player?

            Lundqvist has been the rock upon which NYR has been built, during one of the better periods of sustained success that this franchise has ever had.

        2. I do not think it is wise to call people anti-whoever. While lots of us see as we believe, are we not trying, to be honest with ourselves? I do not think Hank is the best for he is unable to move the puck which weakens our defense. However, he is pretty good at stopping the puck most times.
          Some people see a god who makes no mistakes and can not see his imperfections and make statements that we can not speak ill about the king.
          It’s funny how we play goalies that are hot and I am not sure ours always is. I agree he played well in Washington.

          1. The “anti” people I speak of may not be you but who I am referring to are the ones that are quick to point out a bad goal or a goal, period (regardless of the circumstances), and are silent when the King consistently bails out the team.

            I hear plenty of that, and those are the people I am talking about.

    1. Anyone who thinks we lost in the playoffs because of Hank has either on drugs or just doesn’t really watch the games. Like you said just look what goes on in front of him. Even when we were going on deep runs in the playoffs I would see teams getting 2 and 3 sacks at rebounds or see several oddman rushes. It’s incredible how fans will focus on the breakaway he didn’t stop and not the 4 he did stop. I mentioned earlier that I’ve seen him give up some goals on his blocker side but that doesn’t mean I’m saying he’s done, he stinks or he’s costing us games. It just means exactly what I said and that’s that I’ve notice something he’s doing. I fully expect him to be stopping more of them. I see more n more fans these days use such a small sample of plays or games to make judgements. oh well we all have our opinions. It’s no big deal

        1. Thank you 11. Here’s an example of what I am talking about and I preface by saying that I love Nash:

          Regular season as a Ranger: 248 games, .75 pts per game and .42 goals per game.

          Playoffs as a Ranger: 61 games, .54 pts per game, and .18 goals per game.

          Look at that last stat. He was brought here to put them over the top for a Cup. Nyet. It’s not a coincidence that the Rangers have not won a Cup with Nash having that kind of goal production in the playoffs.

    2. The same thing happened to Mike Richter in the latter stages of his career, where he was mercilessly criticized by fans, whilst playing behind some of the worst D units in Ranger history. Like I said the other day, people are prone to criticize the goalie or D for every goal, because they are the last people you see before the goal goes in.

    1. If you rush to judgement based on two games worth of work, then I am sorry, my friend, it is impossible for me to take you seriously!

        1. Hey Dave, I have a question. Why is Walt allowed to disparage others unnencumbered by warning and the threat of banishment? While others are constantly warned and threatened?

          1. Dude, who started this garbage, see above, when you throw stones, expect to get some back???? This isn’t the first time you’ve taken cheap shots at people, now we can’t respond in kind, get real!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

          2. My apologies to you Walt. Although I fail to see what it is you mean by my throwing stones, I never intended to insult or hurt you in any way. My opinion may have been different then the individual above, but I certainly did not reduce my comments to name calling. As for you, I mistakenly thought that we always had an interesting back and forth in the comment section, sometimes we have agreed, but not often. I thought that exploring the different opinions was what the comment section was all about, my bad. I was wrong.

  7. In the Stanley Cup Final, Lundqvist could not out perform Quick. He and the entire team choked. His steadiness in giving up bad goals at bad times became glaring and noticeable due to the grand scale of the game, the SCF.
    2 glaring factors are his hockey IQ is just not there. I don’t know how many times I had to pull the hair out of my head because he didn’t freeze a puck that ended up in the back of the net because the skaters were on an extended shift.

    His stickhandling makes Holden look like Bobby Orr. Enough said there.

    His contract, People bash Nash for his contract, so why should he be exempt? The double standard is just comical. As someone mentioned, Leaky is better than average and just plain good however he is no longer a star, let alone a superstar.

    Now comes the final coup de gras which is his love to play deep. Majority of the bad goals and why lesser know goalies have outlasted him in the playoffs are due to this fact. If you say Girardi lost a step due to age, why is it blasphemous to say the same thing about Leaky’s reflexes?

    He eerily reminds me of Eddie Giacomon. As an organization it is better to trade him now while he still has value and and get assets for the future of this club rather than sink with the ship.
    I do not dislike Leaky, truly I don’t but what I dislike is elitism and how players treated. My wrath came out with F AVs treatment of McIlrath. I post what the media won’t.
    I still say there are no Ranger defensemen that do what McIlrath does and that other than McDonagh no one has done more or better than McIlrath for McIlrath getting the treatment he has received by the likes of Rick Carpinello in the media and rest of the media and the Ranger organization.
    This is his livelihood and his age matters in this business to lose it the way he has over the treatment of an unqualified coach in my opinion. Only reason AV is a coach is due to the talent on his teams that masked his deficiencies. .

    1. agree with the thoughts……
      Hank was signed to too big a contract just like girardi and stall at too old an age…..
      Entire team,except for strallman played poorly, bad coaching wore this team out before finals!!!!!
      McIlrath can develop into a top 4 defenseman and on this team is right behind McDonagh, but he fights , so our liberal coach dont want him
      My main point is that Goalies rarely win series, Forwards and defenseman do…..YOU think i that ken dryden, grant furh, martin brodeur, billy smith would have won multiple cups without the gretzkys,larry robinsons, potvans, scott stevens, messiers???????
      Hank has been about the best goalie the past 10 years but faces 20 something quality shots a night, he wont win a cup until the team around him improves, esp our defense!!!!!

    2. Your opinion of McIIlrath is not based on reality. The coaching staff sees the flaws in his game you refuse to see. As a defenseman he needs to to a whole lot more than be tough. I like the kid’s physical play and willingness to stick up for his mates, but he hasn’t played too well and that is the reason he is not playing.

      Secondly, give Hank a defense in front of him and defensively responsible forwards and he’ll out perform most net minders in the league. Expecting him to work miracles game in and game out is unrealistic. Point blank shots are not ‘soft goals’.

      1. Don’t hide behind the word coaching staff! You mean AV! Even with a good defense around him, he will still give the puck away by misplaying it and will not help the defense with his nonability to play the puck.
        Rath would have been a high paying defenseman years ago when strength was valuable.
        Why undervalue his ability to keep teams honest or his big checks keep the offense on their heels?
        Reality? just your point of view.

        1. I think anyone that thinks that Gorton and Beuke have no input regarding whether Dylan plays is quite mistaken.

          1. Thanks for making this point, ultimately the buck does stop with AV on daily roster decisions, but I’m always wondering why everyone so sure that the head coach is the only one in the organization of that opinion. We don’t know what goes on among the coaching staff. Ultimately we don’t have enough information to only indict AV. Nobody say fire Beuk bc McIlrath isn’t playing though 🙂

    3. Leather,

      You have the incredible ability to make me wish I was an Isles or Flyers fan…. because at least then, I would have no reason to frequent this Rangers blog and, by extension, read your bizarro and frustrating comments

      1. This is the same bullshit I get with Eddie. Call someone bizarro because you disagree.

      2. Don’t like my comments don’t read them. You can never offend me to be offended is a choice. You have your view and I have mine. I do not like what has happened to this team since F AV got hired.
        Hank has regressed, this is my opinion and I stand by it. I think he has been good for bad goals.
        The truth is often harsh but always fair…You MUST look at results. I was in the Leaky bandwagon and have his Mcfarland figure displayed. Results swayed my stance. If that’s bizarre to you then so be it, I m not here to please you

        1. Is calling someone Bizarro a compliment or mean? Would like someone to say a village is missing an idiot to you? You go under disguise to call someone stupid. “read your bizarro and frustrating comments”
          You may not get offended however you may get replies that are stronger than your lame put down.

  8. Last year was his signature season by a huge margin and the team blew it. He carried a team compromised by an all-time bad coaching job from AV (both in terms of tactics and deployment), a front office staff that didn’t have a clue and it’s not clear it does (from the Hagelin trade that still makes no sense to the E.Staal trade which is even dumber to Paille to..I won’t go on), and a completely flawed roster to the playoffs! The first 20 games of the season were as good of a goalie performance as any in history, including any stretch from Hasek.

    In the playoffs the team got what it deserved which was an absolute pounding. The defense was not able to and is still not, able to transition. Teams gameplanned our outlets nad movements perfectly, and AV could not and would not adjust. When we were looking for goals we trotted out Glass!

    We did not deserve to be in the playoffs, yet we got there with points to spare. Hank is by far and away the greatest Ranger ever. I doubt he can replicate his performance from last season, but if the team doesn’t win the cup, it won’t be because he dropped off.

  9. I believe Lunquist was and still is a very good goalie but much of the credit for his earlier record was due to a different, defense first, style of play which featured F and D blocking shots even at the expense of broken bones (Callahan?). In the past, Lunquist was given too much credit for the result and in the present, he is taking too much blame. It is, after all, a team game. Without intending to bad mouth him, AV prefers a D that sometimes includes people who play like an F and this in name of a speed game. We will see how it works out, especially after Thanksgiving when the serious play begins.

      1. Bologna! Braudore with negative numbers? This is proof you can take stats and make it into whatever you want

        1. Yeah, I could see why his value was ultimately a negative. The guy was still playing the outdated standup style well into this century.

          Also, the time period on the chart is a bit unfair to Brodeur. This chart is tracking his age 35 – 42 seasons. It was painfully clear that Marty’s last 3-4 years should never have happened.

  10. Folks should discuss these matters politely even when they disagree. The throw away ad hominem does nothing to enhance one’s argument and merely pisses people off in a forum that is supposed to be fun. Let’s discuss our opinions about the Rangers and hockey, not our opinions of each other. ?

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