When does Henrik Lundqvist’s workload become a problem?
As the Rangers get deeper in the dog days of the hockey season, there’s been more and more attention paid to Henrik Lundqvist’s workload. He’s started 23 of 26 games already this season, and is on pace to start 72 games this year. The last time Hank started that many games was the 2009-2010 season.
As Hank ages, remember that he’s 35 already, he will need to get more rest so he can be fresh for any potential playoff run. It’s something that Alain Vigneault has been trying to accomplish for each of the past few seasons. So far, it seems that AV doesn’t have the same faith in Ondrej Pavelec that he’s had in his other backups.
That is the concerning part right now. Pavelec is following a pair of stellar seasons for Antti Raanta, which followed a pair of stellar seasons by Cam Talbot. Both guys earned starting roles elsewhere. Pavelec has been shaky at best to start the season, which has led to Hank starting more.
The good news is that Hank looks exceptionally sharp this season. He’s is putting up a .917 SV% (.925 at evens), which when you look at how bad the Rangers are defensively, is impressive. The Blueshirts have a xGA/60 of 2.85, good for dead last in the league. That’s right, even the Coyotes have better defensive numbers.
All that accounts for Hank sporting a 5.86 GSAA –goals saved above average – basically it takes expected save percentage based on shot quantity, types, and locations/quality against and compares it to actual SV%. The higher the better.– which is good for 6th in the league among starting goalies.
The other good part here is that the Rangers haven’t had a compressed schedule. They’ve been able to start Hank without running him into the ground. At least, not yet. They are going to start seeing more games on the schedule, with a pair of back-to-backs this month, which is part of a rough six games in nine nights.
Hank isn’t (shouldn’t?) play 72 games this season, but Pavelec’s ugly .889 SV% might force their hand. With a need for points to keep up in the dogfight that is the Metro Division, Hank gives them a better chance to win. It’s a problem that hasn’t reared it’s head yet, but it might this month.