What to expect from Henrik Lundqvist today against Boston

Lundqvist returns (Getty)

Lundqvist returns (Getty)

Henrik Lundqvist has been out of action for 52 days. During that time he has missed 25 games, the longest stretch of his career without a doubt. Today, the King will return and as per Alain Vigneault, “I told him to go out, work hard and have fun.”

The head coach likely realizes that expectations should be tempered after such a long layoff. We all know Lundqvist is a gamer and even at 75% he’s likely better than 1/3 of the league’s goalies. Still, let’s look at what to look out for.

Obvious Issues

Timing – This will be the first thing to watch out for. His timing on saves and putting shots to the corner will need to be built up in game action. His reactionary saves will also not be as quick due to the layoff but should return quickly.

Puck Tracking – Henrik is absolutely elite in this category. His ability to find pucks through traffic is one thing, but just watching his steely stare on all shots is incredible. Being out of game action, it will take time to get this back to elite level.

Rebound Control – A key factor today will be his rebound control as I expect Boston to shoot from everywhere. Eating up pucks will likely come quicker than the other two because of the amount of rubber he will likely see.

RELATED: STEPHEN VALIQUETTE’S QUEST TO CHANGE HOW WE VIEW GOALIES

Be On The Look Out For

Trepidation – Lundqvist admitted that he had to get over the mental aspect of getting hurt again in practice.

“I think that first practice – that when there was little in the back of the head. When they (the coaches) shot [at me] I was trying to protect the neck and avoid [further injury]. It is in your head a little. But I feel more and more comfortable for each training that goes.” SVT

Henrik will also be wearing a special piece of protective neck gear as well. This should help ease his mind.

“We have built an extraordinary thing for the neck that [helps prevent] whiplash. I have been approved for full contact, so we will see, the protection is well more reassuring thing right now.” SVT
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So I will be most concerned to see how he reacts to shots up high. In the past we’ve seen Lundqvist not even think twice about using his helmet to head one away. I’m expecting the Bruins to whiz a few up near his head and get Henrik thinking.
If Lundqvist shows no hesitation in playing those shots like he’s done in the past, all else will simply fall into place. How he responds to bumps in the crease will be interesting to see, but I expect the Rangers to be on high alert to protect the King.

Final Expectation

I can easily see Henrik coming out a winner today, even if he gives up a few. This is a huge step in his comeback mentally, because physically he will be able to get back on track quickly, especially with practice.
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It’s all mental for me today.

Anthony Scultore has been covering the New York Rangers and the NHL since 2014. His work also appears at... More about Anthony Scultore

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