It hasn’t been a fun season for New York Rangers star Henrik Lundqvist. After getting shelled out west in the beginning of the season, Lundqvist sat out a couple of games with an injury problem. When he came back, he looked like a shell of himself. Lundqvist sat out back-to-back starts and then missed three straight due to poor play. Cam Talbot‘s stellar play led to people questioning whether GM Glen Sather should have given Lundqvist a huge seven-year extension.
But finally, the king has returned. The old Lundqvist is back.
A lot of people have tried to make a lot of excuses for Lundqvist’s poor play early on. People were saying that Lundqvist was having trouble adjusting to Alain Vigneault‘s system. Vigneault’s system allows more high-quality scoring chances instead of forcing the opposition to take shots from bad areas and the point. Then, people started saying that he was playing poorly due to the pressure of playing in a contract year. Once Sather inked him to a seven-year extension, the poor play continued.
Lets just face it folks, Lundqvist was playing poorly. It happens, but that stretch is over.
If last night’s 38-save shutout against the Detroit Red Wings doesn’t make you believe that Lundqvist is back, let’s look at his last five games. He has only given up seven goals, and has yet to allow more than two goals in a game over that stretch.
Meanwhile the Rangers are 4-1, with the only loss coming against the Tampa Bay Lightning. He has had to make over 35 saves in three of his last five starts, including an amazing 35 saves against the defending Stanley Cup champion Chicago Blackhawks.
Some people are going to say that the Rangers have done a better job of limiting quality scoring chances, which is completely true. But when the defense breaks down, which it still often does, Lundqvist has been there to bail them out. That was the biggest problem during his stretch of futility. He just couldn’t come up with a timely save.
Make no mistake about it, the Rangers have been surging because Lundqvist has been playing better. It has taken him a while, but he is finally back to the level that has made him a five-time Vezina Trophy finalist and a one-time winner. The rest of the NHL should look out, because the king is back.