Henrik Lundqvist deserves very little blame for what is going on
It’s no surprise that Henrik Lundqvist has been the center of attention the last several days. After the 7-4 loss to the Flyers on Sunday, you could see it in his eyes that he’s just at his limit. I mean, for a guy that takes the game as seriously and as competitively as he does, to be laughing after a team scores seven goals against him? Yeah, there’s something wrong. And, here’s a shocker, it’s not all on Hank. Very little of it is.
Things are so bad and pathetic that Lundqvist is literally laughing hysterical after giving up his 7th goal of the game. Let that sink in. #NYR
— Forever Blueshirts (@4EverBlueshirts) February 18, 2018
Over Reliance on Hank
Yes, the Rangers have a backup goalie in Ondrej Pavelec. However, it doesn’t seem like the Goalie Whisperer Benoit Allaire has been able to work his magic on Pavelec. Lundqvist’s understudy has only had 10 starts, while Lundqvist has started 50 and played in 52 games. This gives him very little rest, and for an aging goalie, it can be detrimental. The question needs to be asked, before Pavelec’s injury, why didn’t he start more?
I don’t ever use age as a crutch. Henrik may be nearly 36, but he’s still in tip-top shape. He knows his body and keeps it in prime condition to make those stellar saves night after night. But at this rate, he’ll end up playing 65-70 games in the regular season. If they do make it to the playoffs, by some act of god, you know he’s going to be starting those games, too.
The Rangers really need to find a quality backup that can take some of the pressure off of Lundqvist and give him the rest he deserves.
Addressing that “Inconsistent Goaltending”
Rangers Twitter was in an uproar after Vigneault gave a press conference in which he threw Lundqvist and Pavelec under the bus. Let’s be real though, it was a slight directed at Hank. Inconsistent goaltending is the least of the Rangers problems. Probably because it doesn’t exist in the first place. The glaring issue that nobody seems willing to address, as far as Rangers’ management goes, is the defense. Really, it’s a lack of defense. That’s where the rebuild needs to focus, first and foremost. I could talk more about that, but this piece is all about the Swede.
By throwing the star goalie under the bus in the manner that AV did, he basically puts the entire blame on Henrik for the Rangers inability to win games. Well, unfortunately, Lundqvist can’t score goals, it’s not his job. And hey, for a goalie that’s “inconsistent”, he’s not doing too shabby with a .914 SV% and 2.89 GAA while the team is operating like a dumpster fire in front of him.
Hank clapped back in his usual classy way with a veiled reference to AV’s statements:
“We’re beating ourselves in almost every game.” @HLundqvist30 reacts to today's loss in Ottawa. pic.twitter.com/RLeEwgXgPt
— New York Rangers (@NYRangers) February 17, 2018
Playing the Self Blame Game
He could have a big head, but he lets his stats speak for themselves. But anyone who has had the pleasure of interviewing him will always hear the same thing after a loss “I’ve got to be better.”
Lundqvist is the type to take losses personally. He wants to do better, he blames himself for every loss, even when it’s not justified. Even when the team plays like utter garbage in front of him, he doesn’t point the finger. He simply takes the battle internally and tries to better himself. Even if he’s the best player on the ice, and he has a 50-save game, if they lose, he carries his fair share of the blame.
Over the last several weeks, and really for the entire season, he’s done that even more than normal. Of course, this is going to affect him. Henrik gets stuck in his own head and that’s more of a detriment to his play than his competitive streak. And let’s face it, your own coach throwing you under the bus and failing to acknowledge the real issues? It doesn’t help.
The Infamous Bronx Cheer
Now I’m gonna rant for a minute, and this is just my opinion. Take it with a grain of salt, or with a glass of wine as I often do.
One of the most disrespectful things you can do to a goalie is to give him The Bronx Cheer, let alone Henrik. As a matter of fact, it’s not something you should ever do to your own goalie. I mean, this man has kept the Rangers from floundering since his debut in 2005. He’s a generational goalie with the stats and records to back it up. He’s the reason they’ve made the playoffs in eleven out of the twelve years he’s been in net. He’s hidden a lot of flaws. Perhaps that’s part of the problem, that he’s played too well for them. But honestly, if you Bronx cheered Hank, shame on you for calling yourself a Rangers fan.
The last two games have not been Hank’s best, with an average .813 SV%. But after all that he’s done and continues to do, he doesn’t deserve that. And the death stare Hank gave AV this weekend is all we need to know how he feels about his coach.