Henrik Lundqvist Worthy of "King" Status

Michael PolakContributor IDecember 16, 2008

After three straight seasons being named a finalist for the NHL’s Vezina Trophy for top goaltender, Henrik Lundqvist is looking to make year No. 4 the one he finally claims the title.

Lundqvist has been one of the league’s best but has yet to receive the ultimate recognition for his efforts. This season, with a very different-looking team in front of him, “The King” will look to put together his best performance.

So far, Henrik has been solid in net. Heading into Tuesday’s game against the Ducks, Lundqvist has posted a 17-9-2 record along with a solid .913 save percentage. The 17 wins tie him with Evgeni Nabakov of the red-hot Sharks for the league lead.

He also boasts a solid 2.54 goals against average, a number which was much better at the beginning of the year but is now down to 20th, which is a reflection of poor play as of late.

Through the first two months of the season, Lundqvist gave up more than three goals in a game only twice: once in Detroit and once at home against Vancouver. No big deal, Western Conference teams.

However, through just six games in December, Lundqvist has given up six goals in a game to Eastern Conference foe Montreal and an astounding eight to the Devils. At this point, one has to wonder if King Henrik is losing his edge that pushed him to his status as one of the league’s elite goalies.

However, despite Lundqvist’s shortcomings as of late, one area which has always been a consistent strong point for him has been in shootouts. This season, he’s needed to be called on more than usual to step-up and decide the game. Through two-and-a-half months, here are Lundqvist’s shootout performances:

10/25 vs. PIT- Stopped all 3 shots in a 3-2 Rangers win

11/10 vs. EDM- Stopped 1 of 2 shots in a 3-2 Rangers loss

11/15 vs. BOS- Stopped all 4 shots in a 3-2 Rangers win

11/17 vs. OTT- Stopped all 3 shots in a 2-1 Rangers win

11/26 @ TAM- Stopped both shots in a 3-2 Rangers win

11/28 @ FLA- Stopped 2 of 3 shots in a 4-3 Rangers win

12/3 vs. PIT- Stopped 1 of 2 shots in a 3-2 Rangers win

12/13 vs. CAR- Stopped all 5 shots in a 3-2 Rangers win

That all adds up to a record of 7-1 in shootouts, and only three goals allowed in 22 attempts. When the game comes down to the shootout, King Henrik has become a pretty good bet.

However, the success this season is nothing new. In his first three seasons, Lundqvist has won 25 of the 40 shootouts that he’s taken part in, second only to the Devils’ Martin Brodeur.

In a season where the Rangers want to keep their high status in the Eastern Conference, every point is important, and Henrik Lundqvist has helped the Rangers secure that extra point in the shootout almost every time out there.

When you discuss the top goaltenders in the NHL, a conversation is not complete until Henrik Lundqvist’s name is mentioned. He has been one of the best in the league, even with some rough patches, and continues to be a work horse. Despite not being the team’s captain, he has been the most valuable player year-in and year-out to the Rangers and has led the team to three straight playoff appearances.

If he continues to stand on his head, there’s no question we’ll see a fourth straight postseason berth and possibly a trip to the Stanley Cup Finals. The sky’s the limit for King Henrik!