Henrik Lundqvist led the New York Rangers to the Stanley Cup Final with a 1-0 victory over the Montreal Canadiens in Thursday's Game 6 of the Eastern Conference Final. With the all-important victory, Lundqvist passed Mike Richter for the top spot on the Rangers' all-time playoff wins list, while matching Richter's franchise record of nine playoff shutouts, per ESPN Stats & Info.
Long considered an elite netminder, Lundqvist has spent his entire career with a Rangers franchise that previously hadn't reached the Stanley Cup Final since winning a championship in 1994. It was seemingly just a matter of time before "King Henrik" led the Blueshirts back to the promised land, yet his first eight seasons proved fruitless in that regard.
The Rangers have only missed the playoffs once (2009-10) in nine seasons since Lundqvist both debuted and took over as as the top goalie in 2005-06. However, three of those first seven playoff appearances ended in the first round, while another three ended in the second. Only in 2012 did the Rangers reach the Eastern Conference Final, but an impressive run ended with a 4-2 series loss to the rival New Jersey Devils.
The eighth time is apparently the charm for Lundqvist and Co., as the Blueshirts have finally gotten over the hump in Alain Vigneault's first season as the team's head coach. Interestingly enough, Vigneault joined the Rangers following a seven-year run with a Vancouver Canucks squad that became known for underachieving in the playoffs under his guidance. John Tortorella, who coached the Rangers from 2009-10 to 2012-13, essentially traded jobs with Vigneault, taking over as the Canucks' bench boss this season.
Getting back to Lundqvist, the Swedish netminder now has a franchise-record 42 playoff wins to complement his franchise record of 309 regular-season victories. He holds Rangers records for regular-season shutouts (50) and save percentage (.920), while ranking second in saves (14,791) and third in games (574).
The only thing missing is a Stanley Cup, but that may not be the case for long. Should Lundqvist capture the most coveted trophy in all of sports, he could retire immediately afterward and be a no-doubt Hall of Famer.
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