NHL Goalies: Has Henrik Lundqvist Been the Best in the NHL Since the Lockout?
When it comes to Henrik Lundqvist, the Rangers found a diamond in the rough. Drafted in the seventh round in the 2000 NHL Draft, Lundqvist didn't play in North America until his NHL rookie year during the 2005-06 season. In his first six seasons, Lundqvist has established himself as the Rangers' backbone and one of the best goalies in the league. However, has he been the best goalie since he entered the league?
In 406 career games, Lundqvist is 213-137-49, with a 2.32 goals against average (GAA) and a .918 save percentage. He has also been nominated for the Vezina trophy three times, led the league in shutouts twice and has the most shootout wins in the league.
Beyond the numbers, it shouldn't be overlooked how Lundqvist's play determines the result for the Rangers. In his six seasons, the Rangers have only been in the top half of the league in goals per game once (2005-06). Yet, the Rangers have been in the top half of the league in goals against per game in every one of Lundqvist's six seasons and they have been in the top 10 in the league in five seasons.
Out of all his stats, the one that jumps out is the number of games played. Not only has Lundqvist been able to put up Vezina-worthy numbers on a consistent basis, but he also is consistently among the league leaders in games played. Besides his rookie season, Lundqvist has played in at least 68 games every year and 70 games four times. However, with the exception of Martin Brodeur, he is the only goalie to be in the top five in games played and still be in the top 10 in GAA and save percentage.
Despite his strong numbers during the regular season, the Rangers' lack of playoff success has prevented Lundqvist from being the top goalie in the game. Lundqvist's record in playoff series is 2-5 and he has not made it past the second round of the playoffs in his career.
Another great Rangers goalie, Eddie Giacomin, once said the goalie is at the mercy of the team in front of him. With the Rangers' core being young, the team Lundqvist has in front of him could be as good as any team in front of him so far. However, at 29 years old, Lundqvist is in the prime of his career and the chances to make a run at the Cup are going to start to run out.
Despite what is in front of Henrik Lundqvist this season, the Rangers know they have a shot to win because No. 30 is in the net.
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