New York Rangers: Is Lundqvist Playing Through an Injury?

Metro HockeyCorrespondent IDecember 13, 2009

The franchise goaltender of the New York Rangers and so called "King" as nicknamed by the fan base, has been suffering from a brutal season thus far. Although the defense in front of him has left a red carpet right to the front of the net, when the defense has showed up, Lundqvist has been sub-par, allowing soft goals at some of the most inopportune times.

Originally, I thought his struggles were entirely mental, due to a lack of concentration, but after watching last night's game it seems that Lundqvist is injured and playing through it. In fact, I would almost guarantee that he has a lower body injury, specifically the groin. He must be keeping it inside of him because no coach would allow their franchise player to put himself at such a risk, even if it meant jeopardizing a young season. I would also wager that the injury would require surgery, one that would force Lundqvist to miss the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver.

Lundqvist, the current number one goaltender for Team Sweden, would be looking to defend his goal medal won during the 2006 season. In the months following that though, Lundqvist went on to suffer a hip-flexor injury late in the season before migraines set in during the playoffs.

Just watch Lundqvist's play more closely, especially the way he moves. He is no longer able to quickly spread his legs from post to post, covering the lower half of the net. It also looks like it's hurting him to stand in the butterfly position, which is the reason why he is dropping down too early. This has lead to numerous goals being shot right over his shoulder and in the net. Opposing players are keying in on that now, and that is why his struggles have lasted too long. The situation is serious because goaltending coach Benoit Allaire is too smart a man to not have noticed this. Lundqvist's poor play is almost entirely due to the fact that he drops too early. All Allaire has to do is tell him to stay on his feet longer, and Lundqvist knows that, but the injury is preventing that from happening.

I am a strong opposition to the Olympics interrupting the middle of an NHL season, but Lundqvist has every right to want to play in those games. But he is putting this team and himself at risk by doing so, if in fact he is injured. Most players that play in the Olympics try to not get hurt during the tournament so they can return to normal during the end of the regular season. But it appears that the opposite is happening for Lundqvist; he is trying to play it safe during the regular season so that he will be able to star in Vancouver this February.

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