Rangers Pros & Cons: Will Lundqvist Have His Workload Cut This Season?
It’s no secret that Henrik Lundqvist is getting older. We’ve all watched enough Rangers games to know that the face of the franchise wants to play every game so he can have a direct effect on the outcome.
Fans wouldn’t have a problem with this if he didn’t start to show us his age last season. Yes, he did have a weaker defense in front of him, and yes, AV’s choices didn’t help either, but he did let up some soft goals here and there. With that in mind, a younger core could signal to Hank that this team is on the rise. Opting to stay with the Rangers during the rebuild and guiding the young Rangers through it, Hank could be rejuvenated and showcase his Vezina form once again. Although, the regular workload might be too much for Henrik and he might put too much pressure on a growing team. As cliché as this is, let’s look at the pros and cons of keeping his workload steady.
PRO: Veteran Leadership
He may be in the crease and not on the bench, but Lundqvist can still supply plenty of leadership with his actions on the ice. The 13-year vet has enough experience to know when it’s time for him to bump up his level of play. Being the last line of defense on a relatively younger team than what he’s used to, Hank can make up for some of his teammate’s mistakes. Instilling confidence within his teammates will be his primary role for this next season. Showing that he doesn’t crack under pressure can boost those around him into becoming the best players they can be.
CON: Young Core + New Coach = Little Support
As stated above, he’ll be the last line of defense for this young team. This is nothing new for Hank, as he has bailed out all of the weak play he’s seen over the years with guys like Nick Holden, Marc Staal, Brendan Smith, and even the occasional Ryan McDonagh and Dan Girardi slip-ups. With the arrival of new head coach David Quinn and a new system for these new and young players, Hank might be on the tail end of their growing pains. Penalty kills and backchecking might take the biggest hits if the team can’t adapt right away. Hank will be relied on more heavily in those situations and will probably give up more goals than normal. Frustration is a big problem that only goes away when getting positive results and if Hank can’t produce, his playing time will take a hit.
PRO: Georgiev A Fluke?
Though not a pro for the Rangers, this may be a pro for Henrik Lundqvist. Last season saw the emergence of a young stud by the name of Alexandar Georgiev. Georgiev showcased some of his play in the absence of the injured Ondrej Pavelec last season. A small sample size showed Georgiev can produce on the NHL level and get some decent results. The problem with small sample sizes is that it’s small. Who knows what next season could mean for Georgiev, maybe he’s not as good as we may think. This bodes well for The King and his playing time. Instead of potentially splitting time down the middle with Georgiev, we may see Hank take a larger load of games.
CON: His Age
Can Henrik even handle a regular amount of games or even an increased load? Last season we saw some cracks in his foundation. Starting 61 games and posting a 26-26-7 record only paints part of the picture. Hank let up a career-high 174 goals, which lead to his career high 2.98 GAA. Last year’s team let up over 2000 shots against when Hank was in net, and now that the captain is no longer with the team, that shot total may increase. For a goaltender of his age, Lundqvist is on the downward swing of his career and may not be able to handle more shots per game, which could result in more games the Rangers lose and less starts for the King.
PRO: He Wants to Play
Recently on MSG Network, Joe Micheletti spoke about how Henrik Lundqvist will be fired up to play with a younger roster of players next season. Motivation to play is a huge factor in a player’s production. If given the choice to play, Lundqvist will choose to play in every game. As stated earlier, age is a factor in this, but that won’t change the drive he has to be the best version of himself every game. Will there be some games to forget? Sure. But will that deter him from wanting to be the heart and soul of this team? Absolutely not. Up until his retirement, Hank’s love of the game will drive him to always be his best, and that benefits a rebuilding team.
CON: Always Been On A Contending Team
Speaking of rebuilding, Henrik has always been in the crease to ensure that the Rangers would be contenders, and we’ve seen how badly he takes losses during the regular season and postseason. But what can we expect from a team who just traded away a good portion of their assets and weren’t big buyers during the free agency frenzy? Well, we don’t know. Hank is approaching uncharted territory that may put a strain on his play and mental fortitude. There will be games where he lets up four or more goals and is still going to be in the net after the fact. We’ve seen goalies be left out to dry by rebuilding teams before. Frustration will need to be avoided, but if Hank can’t keep his play up during the tough road ahead, there’s a good chance whoever the backup is next season shares a significant amount of the workload with him.
PRO: Fully Aware The Rangers May Not Be Good
To immediately counteract what was just said, Hank is fully aware that the rebuild has picked up full steam. He is aware that there will be unwinnable games, but he still chose to be on this team. Loyalty and dedication like that are not found in many superstars these days, but it’s one Rangers fans should be happy about. Hank loves New York and the Rangers, and he wants to help them usher in a new era for the team. He’ll give it his all every night, and he’ll be rewarded with playing time. As G.I Joe famously said, “knowing is half the battle”, and Hank is going in prepared as he’ll try to shut down opponents at every turn.