New York Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist will not be in the conversation for Vezina Trophy winner for the first time in three seasons. The Vezina is awarded to the league’s top goaltender each year. Lundqvist won the award two seasons ago when he went 39-18-5 with a 1.97 GAA and a .930 save percentage.
Only three qualify as finalists every year, and Lundqvist has been a finalist in five of his first eight seasons. This season’s finalists are Ben Bishop of the Tampa Bay Lightning, Semyon Varlamov of the Colorado Avalanche and Tuukka Rask of the Boston Bruins.
Last season Lundqvist placed third in the voting behind Antti Niemi of the San Jose Sharks and winner Sergei Bobrovsky of the Columbus Blue Jackets. Lundqvist’s value to the Rangers along with his outstanding consistency is what’s earned him the nickname “The King”, but this season was the most inconsistent one of his career.
Lundqvist started the season winning just 10 games in his first 27 decisions. He quickly turned his play around and went into the Olympic break on fire. In his final 12 games before the month-long break, Lundqvist went 10-2-0 in 12 games and had a spectacular 1.58 GAA.
He stumbled out of the Olympics with four losses in his first six games after the Sochi games. Despite the roller coaster type season for Lundqvist, he’s found his game at the most important time — playoff time. He’s 2-1 in three playoff games so far this season and has looked very strong in net for the Rangers. Lundqvist has also given up two goals or less in six of his last eight games.
While he wasn’t consistent enough throughout the season to earn a spot as a Vezina finalist, he still managed to finish with very good numbers. Lundqvist won 33 games with a 2.36 GAA and posted a .920 save percentage. In his career, Lundqvist has won at least 30 games in every season except for one. That was due to a shortened 2012-13 season, when he won 24 times in 43 games played.
The brilliant play from New York’s backup Cam Talbot is a main reason “The King” is playing well down the stretch. Every year Lundqvist is a workhorse, but this year Talbot lightened the load by starting 19 games and winning 12 of them. Talbot got some starts this season when Lundqvist was not playing his best. The backup made the most of his opportunities, and that definitely helped Lundqvist mentally, knowing the Rangers always had a chance to win if even if he wasn’t in the lineup. One thing hasn’t changed for Lundqvist; he’s still been the Rangers’ most valuable player this season.
Lundqvist may not be a Vezina finalist this season, but he’s got his eyes on a bigger prize — the Stanley Cup.