February 25, 2014

Henrik Lundqvist’s March To 300; Top Five Moments

Rob Carr/Getty Images

 

Al Bello/Getty Images

Al Bello/Getty Images

With Henrik Lundqvist 2 away from 300 wins and 4 away from all-time wins by a goaltender for the New York Rangers, it would be a good time to bring up his best moments in his legacy as a hockey player. First let’s discuss a brief history of “King Henrik”.

 

Becoming The King

Lundqvist was drafted by the New York Rangers in the 2000 draft at 205th overall. It’s hard to believe it’s been almost 14 years since he was drafted, right? Before joining the New York Rangers, Lundqvist developed in one of the worlds best goaltending league – Swedish Elitserien (SEL) and played for Frolunda HC. He’s the only goaltender to win the Honken Trophy for three seasons (2003, 2004 and 2005) which is awarded to the league’s best goaltender that season. He has also won highly honorable awards which include the Golden Puck ( similar to the NHL’s Hart Memorial Trophy) and the Golden Helmet (Leagues Most Valuable Player voted by the players) in 2004-2005. He’s broken numerous records in the SEL and had an outstanding career with a 1.96 goals against average and a .927 save percentage in 180 games for Frolunda HC.

Now let’s get to the fun part. Breaking down Henrik’s finest moments into five of his best;

 

5.  Hank robs David Krejci January 19, 2013

 

After a 119 day NHL lockout that lasted from September 15, 2012 to January 6, 2013 hockey was back in New York and the Rangers were ready to hit the ice again. The Rangers opened up their season against Boston at the TD Garden. Almost midway through the third period, the Rangers were down 2-1 and Boston had a powerplay opportunity. As Boston gathered in the offensive zone setting up a play, Zdeno Chara fires a pass that Milan Lucic redirects to David Krejci for a wide open shot, only to be completely stonewalled by Henrik Lundqvist glove down low, keeping the puck just centimeters away from crossing the goal line. After further review, the referees confirmed it did not cross the line giving Hank an early candidate for save of the year.

 

[su_youtube url=”http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mXAlpud_8l0″]Game Seven Highlights – [/su_youtube]

 

4. Hank gets first career win against big rival New Jersey Devils – October 13, 2005

 

Leaving out what started it all would be a bad omen and without Kevin Weekes getting a groin injury, how much longer would we have to wait to see history in the making? It was a big night for both teams. A two decade old rivalry battling it out in Madison Square Garden and Lundqvist was about to get a taste of it against a team who just won the Stanley Cup two years prior. With Martin Brodeur, one of the leagues best goaltenders up against Hank, he knew it would be a tough win to earn being a rookie. Martin Rucinsky and Ville Nieminen scored 17 seconds part and it gave Hank all the cushion he needed for his first win. The highlight of the game though was when John Madden had a shorthanded breakaway and Lundqvist sprawled around to make the save and keep it 3-0 at the time. After dropping his first career start in New Jersey in a 3-2 loss in a shootout, he came back with a win and the rest is history!

 

3.  Hank saves Rangers series against Capitals, getting back-to-back shutouts in games six and seven in a two day span. NHL Playoffs on May 13 and May 14, 2013.

 

After the Rangers lost to the Washington Capitals in game five of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals against the powerhouse Washington Capitals, Lundqvist knew he would have to be on top of his game. Mike Ribeiro gave Washington what could’ve been a chance to advance to the next round, but what happened next nobody saw coming. With Lundqvist having one of his best games of his career, Brassard scores a goal from the point off a blast with Nash was screening Holtby and John Moore having the primary assist. That was all that was needed for Hank to steal the victory and force a game seven.

[su_youtube url=”http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BlilRW8vTI8″]Game Seven Highlights – [/su_youtube]

 

You may think Hank had an easy night for game seven, but it wasn’t the case. Lundqvist had to make 35 saves against a team that knows how to score. It just so happened to be Holtby’s worst game of the series, giving up five goals in a series deciding match. Three former Rangers (one of them in Connecticut) had three of the five goals, Asham’s being the game winning goal to seal the deal for the Rangers and giving Hank his second shutout in a two day span, ranking this one of his best moments in his career.

[su_youtube url=”http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FMgVUDdkCNk”]Game Seven Highlights – [/su_youtube]

2. Hank stops Daniel Briere during the Winter Classic with 19 seconds left that salvage the victory against the Flyers – January 2, 2012

The New York Rangers took on the Philadelphia Flyers in a heated rivalry. The only difference was it was played outdoors in Philadelphia at Citizens Bank Park. With a lot of pressure on both teams to perform well in a outdoor classic and HBO covering the team for the past few weeks one team had to win. While the Rangers scored three unanswered goals, two coming from Michael Rupp and one from Brad Richards, you knew this game wasn’t over just yet. Ryan Callahan took a controversial penalty while breaking away with the puck as he held a Flyers stick while being hooked to prevent an empty net goal. The Rangers would end up having to kill a penalty for the remainder of the game. With 30 seconds left in the game, the Flyers were bringing on the pressure. With a huge scramble in Hanks crease, Ryan McDonagh slide across to stop the puck from sliding into the net and the play was called dead and no indication of a penalty or penalty was called, until shortly after. It seems as if the referee blew his whistle before anything was indicated as illegal, but the Flyers were rewarded one anyway. 43,647 people on their feet Danny Briere carefully cradles the puck into the zone and shoots the puck at Lundqvist’s pads without even making a move to give Hank a challenge. The crowd exploded as Lundqvist did a slight pump fist towards the ground. The Rangers killed the remainder of the 19 seconds to seal the victory in a game that was one for the ages.

[su_youtube url=”http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VlL_kDIJ5oM”]Game Seven Highlights – [/su_youtube]

1. Hank wins gold for Team Sweden as a rookie goaltender in 2006

As I said earlier, it would be a shame to leave this incredible accomplishment out of his legacy. Henrik Lundqvist was already having a solid rookie season and was named to Team Sweden’s roster for the 2006 Winter Olympics in Turin, Italy. He went 5-1 in six games and posted a 2.33 goals against average, and a .907 save percentage while only giving up 12 goals. Not only did Hank win gold in his rookie year, he beat an international rival, Team Finland.

[su_youtube url=”http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-bmw2A1KDZk”]Game Seven Highlights – [/su_youtube]

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