Is Henrik Lundqvist the Greatest Goalie in Rangers History?
When you stop and think of Ranger goalie greats, two names come up and coincidently rise to the rafters. Eddie Giacomin and Mike Richter played over 600 games for the Rangers (608 & 666 respectively). Eddie finished with 289 wins in his career and Richter with 301. Yesterday, Henrik Lundqvist shutout the Detroit Red Wings to earn his 49th career shutout and 300th win.
Those milestones tie him with Eddie Giacomin for the all-time lead in NYR shutouts and leaves him 1 behind Mike Richter in all time wins (301). What is truly staggering is the fact that Lundqvist is still in the prime of his career and getting better. Just where will Hank finish? 500 wins looks promising, 600 may be a stretch, but no matter what number he finishes with, it’ll be more than any other Rangers net minder in history.
“ED-DIE, ED-DIE, ED-DIE”
Eddie Giacomin is adored by the Rangers’ faithful. His number 1 hangs proudly in the Garden rafters. A Hall of Famer, Giacomin finished with a 2.82 GAA and 54 shutouts. Eddie won the Vezina Trophy in 1971 but never captured the Stanley Cup. The highlight of his career may very well be his tearful return to the Garden as a member of the Detroit Red Wings. Rangers fans rained down boos at their own team while chanting “Ed-die! Ed-die!” Giacomin would win that game for the Red Wings, but he never lost the hearts of the Garden Faithful. In a biography video, Giacomin looked back on his return and recalled “That was one heck of an experience that will never go away. The New York Rangers crest is buried in Eddie Giacomin’s heart.”
A 10 ON THE RICHTER SCALE
Mike Richter never won a Vezina Trophy or Olympic Gold, what he did win was the Stanley Cup. Something only 4 other Ranger goalies out of 82 in franchise history won before him. In 1928 Lorne Chabot was the man until an eye injury in the finals made Lester Patrick don the pads for the franchise’s first ever Championship. Then Andy Aitkenhead and Dave Kerr won it 1933 and 1940 respectively.
It took 54 years for someone that special to come along and Richter did it in grand fashion. At the age of 27, Richter amassed a record of 42-12-6, with a 2.57 GAA and .910 save percentage. Along the way he would win MVP of the 1994 All-Star game, held at MSG. He topped that regular season with a 16-7 record, 2.07 GAA and .921 save percentage in the playoffs to win the Stanley Cup. He also notched what may be the greatest moment in NYR history when he stopped Pavel Bure on a penalty shot in game 4.
[su_youtube url=”https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YJ7NEPvh52c”]Game Seven Highlights – [/su_youtube]
Mike Richter had just done the impossible and was poised to do more. In 1996 versus the heavily favored Canadians, he would backstop Team USA to a World Cup Championship and then an Olympic Silver in 2002. Sadly, his career was hampered by a devastating knee injury and a concussion that ended his career after only 13 games in 2002. Yet, he finished with 301 wins, 2.89 GAA and a .904 save percentage in the regular season. His playoff totals were 41 wins, 2.68 GAA and a .909 save percentage, but that giant silver Cup looms biggest.
The number 35 was raised high to the rafters on February 4th, 2004, almost as high the spirits of Rangers fans on June 14th, 1994. That night Richter said “Over this last year, any sense of loss has been replaced with feelings of gratitude and joy, and the realization that this time spent here was nothing short of an amazing gift.”
THE KING’S PLACE
If it all ended for Hank today, his number 30 would share space in the Garden rafters without question. His Gold and Silver medals are accolades enough and when you add in his 2012 Vezina trophy he is Hall of Fame bound. However, if he wants to be the greatest of all time in NY, he needs to win the Cup.
Currently, Lundqvist has a 30-37 record in the playoffs. Although he took the Rangers to the Eastern Conference Finals in 2012 it was still a far cry from winning the Stanley Cup. Mike Richter did just that in 1994 and I believe Henrik Lundqvist can as well. If he does, the moment he raises that Cup over his head, he will truly be the Rangers greatest goalie ever. A prize truly befitting the King.