With the season coming to a close and the New York Rangers set to go golfing in April for the second straight season, it is easy to see that things were not easy for the team this season.
This team showed it’s inexperience in all areas of the game, struggled defensively, did not score nearly enough goals, and lost a lot of one goal and overtime games. Yes, this team was competitive and worked hard every night, but unfortunately, we all knew that this was going to be a rough season.
When it comes to Rangers’ franchise netminder of future Hall of Fame goaltender, Henrik Lundqvist, he really had two different seasons this year. The second half of this season has been absolutely awful for him, but in the first half of the season, it looked like the Lundqvist of old between the pipes.
In the first half of the year, Lundqvist, 37, was outstanding. He won the team a lot of games, he kept the team in games that they had no business in, he made the big saves when he needed to, and he was giving the guys in front of him a lot of confidence.
His fine play earlier in the year made him an All-Star. During All-Star weekend, he won the goalie skills competition and was also terrific in the game itself.
It has been a much different story for “the King” since the All-Star break. He’s look tired, beaten down, and overall has not been very good between the pipes.
As of this writing Lundqvist is 18-22-10 with a 3.05 goals-against average, a .908 save percentage, and has no shutouts. This could end up being the first year that Henrik does not record a shutout.
While his record is not exactly his fault, the win total is something that Ranger fans are not accustomed to seeing. In fact, this will be the second straight season that he did not record at least 30 wins, something he has done every season except this year and last year.
He has started to show his age in his last five starts. He has not won any games during this stretch, has allowed 18 goals, and has had trouble coming up with the big save when his team needs one.
Again, that is not entirely his fault. With that said, there are a few goals that I am sure he would love to have back.
It’s also interesting that Lundqvist has seen the bench a lot more in recent games. This is due to the fact that the team wants to get a better look at what Henrik’s backup, Alexandar Georgiev can do.
Georgiev, 23, has certainly shown that he can be a full-time NHL masked man. He is currently 13-13-3 with a 2.95 goals-against average, a .912 save percentage, and two shutouts.
Yes, I realize that Georgiev has not played in as many games as Lundqvist. With that said, Georgiev’s stats are impressive and for someone who is still very young, it shows that he has a lot of potential to be something more in this league.
With the strong play of Georgiev and with Igor Shesterkin potentially coming over to North America after his season in the KHL ends, many wonder what this will mean for Henrik. Lundqvist clearly does not want to play for anyone else and also has a no movement clause in his contract.
Part of me wishes that he would get traded to a contender so that he can get one last shot at the thing he wants the most: the Stanley Cup. The other part me wants him to retire as a Blueshirt because this is where he has always belonged.
Regardless of what happens in the future for Henrik, it is time for Ranger fans to start realizing that the end is near for one of the game’s greatest goaltenders. As such, it is time for them to appreciate everything he has done for this franchise and start looking towards the future.
Photo: The Associated Press