The New York Rangers may struggle this season, but if there is one player who is going to try and prevent that it is franchise goaltender Henrik Lundqvist.
The “King” hasn’t been at his best the last two seasons. After being an All-Star last season, he struggled the rest of the way and never seemed to regain that form. That definitely was not all his fault, but it was clear that he was a bit off.
Going into this season, the team and their fans were not quite sure what to expect out of their 36-year-old netminder. They knew that it could be tough this year considering that they have a new head coach, a lot of younger players in the lineup, and a defense that is probably going to be running around in their own zone a lot this season.
Well, three games into the season, Lundqvist has been the team’s best player. Known as a slow starter, it appears that the veteran goaltender is trying to change that theme this year.
While his record is 1-2, his other numbers are among the best in the league. As of this writing (October 12), he has posted a 2.03 goals against average and a .942 save percentage.
What’s even more amazing is that he has done this against some of the better teams in the league. On opening night against the Nashville Predators, the league’s best team last year, Lundqvist was the main reason that his team had an opportunity to win that game as he stopped 30 of 32 shots, including a few dandies.
Against the Buffalo Sabres two nights later, he once again kept the team in the hockey game by stopping 26 of 28 shots. Remember, the Sabres now have a lot of offense so Lundqvist did his job to keep the game close.
On October 11 against the San Jose Sharks, Lundqvist was phenomenal against a team that has a ton of offense. He stopped 41 of 43 shots in helping his club to their first victory of the season.
As a goaltender myself, one of the main reasons I think he is having so much success to start the season is that he is playing the style that made him so successful in the first place. In the last few seasons, Lundqvist had been a lot more aggressive, was actually caught out of position a bunch of times, and appeared to be a bit uncomfortable playing this way.
To start the season, he is back to playing deeper in his crease. Because he is doing this, he is able to control his movements more, keep everything tighter, and rely on his reflexes and solid positioning to stop the puck.
This could still end up being a very long season for both the Blueshirts and their future Hall of Fame masked man. With that said, Lundqvist is doing everything he can to prove everyone wrong and show his team and the rest of the league that he is still one of the best goaltenders in the league.
If you’re a Rangers fan, you should be happy that your number one goaltender can still be the best player on your favorite team. With Lundqvist between the pipes, anything is possible.