Bruce Bennett/Getty Images
Henrik Lundqvist has not only been the Rangers’ most consistent player over the past five years, but he’s also been the league’s best goaltender.
His career numbers are simply staggering: 2.25 goals-against average, which is good enough for 11th all time, and .921 save percentage, which ties with Tim Thomas for second all time.
In addition, the 31-year-old has been nominated for the Vezina Trophy five times and won it in 2011-12 for the first time, and his seven consecutive 30-win campaigns to start his NHL career is unprecedented.
There’s no two ways about it, the guy’s the best in the business. But I think The King is going to have a down year.
He didn’t have a great preseason, but I don’t look into that too much, simply because preseason is tough for a goalie. Getting your game focus down can be difficult and can certainly take some time. If you remember, last season Lundqvist came out stale in the first handful of games, and a lot of that had to do with his lack of real-game action.
But in 2013-14, I believe Lundqvist is going to come down to earth a bit. The past two seasons he’s been lights-out. After winning the Vezina in 2011-12, Lundqvist again was nominated in 2013, and although he didn’t win, he certainly had a case.
I just have my doubts as to whether or not Lundqvist can continue to play at that level for much longer. I think he’s going to remain one of the best goalies in the league, but the pressure is so high for Lundqvist every time he hits the ice; his game is going to sag eventually.
And it makes sense that it would happen this season. With a new coach and a new philosophy, there are bound to be systematic breakdowns that result in more pucks directed at Lundqvist. Also, the smaller pads are something he’s going to have to get used to. Although the changes are not drastic, they’re still changes, and Lundqvist, and goaltenders alike, are going to have to grow accustomed to their new gear.