As the 2013-14 NHL season was progressing, it became quite clear that New York Rangers All-Star goaltender Henrik Lundqvist had his mind distracted by the uncertainty of his future than the game at hand.
So far this season Lundqvist has looked like a shell of his former self, allowing tons of bad goals, lots of juicy rebounds, and scrambling all over the crease instead of being calm, cool, and collected.
Some blamed his less than stellar play on the smaller goalie pad reduction, but a lot of the goals he was giving up were glove high which has nothing to do with the size of the pads. Some also blamed his inconsistent play and lack of dominance on his age, which I found hard to believe since he was great just last year — although just look at Brad Richards‘ last few years. Most likely the reason for Lundqvist’s subpar season so far was the uncertainty if he and GM Glen Sather would reach an agreement to make him a Ranger for life as Lundqvist was going to be an unrestricted free agent at the end of this season.
However, a deal was reached a couple of days ago on a new seven-year contract for Lundqvist worth $8.5 million per season. And if you doubted the contract negotiations lingering in Lundqvist’s mind as the main reason for his average year so far, Lundqvist showed last night why you should start believing.
For the first time all year I saw a confident Lundqvist out there against the Buffalo Sabres. He was on his game and by far was the best player on the ice for the Rangers — which he needs to be if this team is to go anywhere this year and in the future. The final score last night was a 3-1 Rangers win, and the only goal Lundqvist surrendered was late in the third period off of a giveaway in the defensive zone which was not his fault at all.
Lundqvist’s first game with his new extended contract should have been a shutout, but I am sure he will take the win regardless. Shutout or not, he now has peace of mind.