By Dominic Lancella on June 15, 2014
The New York Rangers had their 2014 playoff run come to a heartbreaking and abrupt end after an overtime loss in the final game. No Ranger seemed to be feeling the pain more than goalie Henrik Lundqvist, who absolutely played his heart out. After conceding the final goal that made the Los Angeles Kings Stanley Cup Champs, Lundqvist could only sit on the ice in silence. Here are five reasons why he can hold his head high after the tough end.
Lundqvist would probably still be sitting on the ice if he didn’t have to get in the handshake line, but at least he can know it was against the best. Lundqvist’s direct opposition, Jonathan Quick, played outstanding in goal for the Kings. Along with the Boston Bruins’ Tuukka Rask, Lundqvist and Quick are probably the three best goalies in the NHL. With Quick in the West, Lundqvist couldn’t have lost to a better goalie in the final.
You could argue multiple scapegoats for New York’s demise, but Lundqvist is the last reason his team came up short. He gave his team every opportunity to win the series and New York’s offense couldn’t deliver for him. Lundqvist played spectacularly in three overtime games, but he couldn’t hold them off long enough when the Rangers' offense failed to score a timely goal. Lundqvist can leave it all out on the ice knowing he gave everything he had.
Not only did Lundqvist grow as a player this season, his team grew as well. The Rangers made it two rounds farther than they did last season. As crazy as it is to think about, Lundqvist can still improve, and he works extremely hard to improve his game. He grew this season especially because he had some inconsistencies during the regular season. He handled his ups and downs and played amazing throughout the playoffs.
Lundqvist was among the league-leaders in every goaltending category throughout the playoffs. His 2.14 goals against average and .927 save percentage are sparkling stats that show why New York was able to hang with the Kings for a little while. His play in elimination games was stellar and his numbers reflect his outstanding play.
While losing take's time to get over, Lundqvist will be even more motivated for next season. He signed a long-term deal and will probably be a Ranger for his entire career. The Rangers emerged as a force in the Eastern Conference, and they’re going to get better. Lundqvist can hold his head high knowing the Rangers have a very solid nucleus for success in the future. Lundqvist is the centerpiece of that nucleus and should be proud of his season.
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