NY Rangers: What Makes Henrik Lundqvist the Best Goaltender in the NHL

Jeremy FuchsCorrespondent IIIAugust 31, 2012

NY Rangers: What Makes Henrik Lundqvist the Best Goaltender in the NHL

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    Who is the best goaltender in the NHL? Is it Henrik Lundqvist? Jonathan Quick? Martin Brodeur? What about Roberto Luongo or Pekka Rinne?

    Compelling cases could be made for all of them. But we believe strongly that the best goaltender in hockey is New York Ranger Henrik Lundqvist.

    The Vezina Trophy winner is coming off another terrific season, where he went 39-18-5 with a .930 save percentage and a 1.97 goals-against average and helped backstop the Rangers to within two games of the Stanley Cup Final.

    What makes "King Henrik" the best? Read on to find out. 

Wins

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    Henrik Lundqvist sure knows how to win games. In 468 games in his career, Lundqvist has won 252 of them. That means he's won 53 percent of his games.

    By contrast, Martin Brodeur has won 55 percent of his games. Patrick Roy has won 53 percent as well. 

    We assume that Brodeur and Roy are among the best ever to play the goaltender position. Lundqvist is right up there in this key stat.

    Mike Richter, the Rangers' best goalie in history, has a winning percentage of 45. 

    Lundqvist has never had less than 30 wins in his career and has a career high of 39.

    Wins are one way to measure goalies. Yes, it may be flawed; if a team scores five goals, it's going to be relatively easy to win that game.

    Still, a good goalie should get around 30 wins, and King Henrik has never been under that threshold.

    Wins may be an overrated stat, but consider this: The top 10 wins leaders feature seven current Hall of Famers, one future Hall of Famer in Brodeur and two potential Hall of Famers in Curtis Joseph and Chris Osgood.

    Wins are important, and Lundqvist's career is shaping up to have a lot of them. 

Has to Do the Work

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    Diehard Rangers fans often say something like this after Rangers victories: Where would we be without Hank?

    Game after game, Henrik Lundqvist bails out his teammates. He makes incredible saves and is so dependable. Ranger fans have begun to worship at the church of Henrik.

    A lot of this has to do with the fact that the Rangers just don't score a lot. Last season, the Rangers scored 2.7 goals per game. Despite that low number, the Rangers finished first in the Eastern Conference.

    In 2008-2009, the Rangers scored 2.4 goals per game, a pretty dismal number. Didn't matter to Henrik: He still nabbed 38 wins.

    Ranger fans watch in awe of Lundqvist as he makes spectacular save after spectacular save. 

    To watch Lundqvist is a joy. He comes up big on breakaways, on penalty kills. He bails the Rangers out nightly.

    And let's be frank: It's hard to imagine the Rangers being the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference without Lundqvist. 

Shootout Savant

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    There's no one better in shootouts than Henrik Lundqvist.

    Hank has a 74.7 save percentage on shootouts.

    For comparison's sake, Jonathan Quick has a 66 percent save rate. Broduer's is 69 percent. Mike Smith's is 57 percent.

    In his career, Lundqvist is 31-20 in shootouts.

    Whenever the Rangers get to overtime, it seems as if they're trying to get to a shootout; they feel they have a better chance to win.

    Not only does he make great saves, but he keeps them in it. The Rangers have trouble scoring on the breakaways, so Lundqvist can keep them going in the later rounds. 

Steady

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    There's no one steadier than Henrik Lundqvist.

    Consider this: In the past season, Lundqvist gave up four goals in only six games.

    Jonathan Quick, the Conn Smythe Trophy winner, gave up four goals in seven games and five goals in one game.

    Pekka Rinne, a finalist for the Vezina Trophy, had 15 games of four or more goals.

    From November through February, Lundqvist's goals-against average never went above 1.88. In that time, he faced 28.7 shots per game.

    That's pretty impressive. In order to determine the best goalie, you have to compare him against the best. Lundqvist stands up to all of them.

    In addition, the Rangers can expect a solid performance from Lundqvist each night. Yes, every goalie is going to have a stinker. But Lundqvist has a done a good job of minimizing that. 

    A good team needs steady performances from its goalie. It's no wonder that the Rangers are one of the better teams in hockey. 

Listen to the League

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    Don't listen to me waxing poetic about Henrik Lundqvist. Listen to the league. 

    Martin Brodeur, one of the best of all time, thinks Lundqvist is the best goaltender in hockey right now, via ESPNNewYork.com:

    He's a Vezina candidate. He's the one that's been—I don't know—he's unbelievable. He is lately. He's kind of the top goalie in the league right now. 

    Analyst Darren Pang said, via The New York Times:

    It's amazing watching Henrik, because when he does get beat, he gets beat by pretty darn good shots. Very seldom do pucks go through him, or does he end up over committing. It makes it very hard to get a breakdown on how to beat him. 

    Star Red Wing center Henrik Zetterberg said, via The Times:

    You see him in street clothes, and you're like, 'This is the same guy?'. He stands up so tall that it's tough to see any net behind him.

    In a Sports Illustrated players poll, he was ranked as the toughest goalie to score on in a shootout. 

    Lundqvist has been a finalist for the Vezina four times, with one win, and he's been a finalist for the Hart Trophy and the Ted Lindsay Award.

    The players and those who follow the league closely know that Lundqvist is the best. So do we.