Henrik Lundqvist has been at the back end for the New York Rangers since his career began in New York, but not the wrong back end.
Yet year after year seasons have come to an abrupt close even if the club reached the Stanley Cup Finals (2014).
The King has blamed himself for it every time.
Most of the time, this was never the case at all as the team itself imploded and not Lundqvist.
However, last year’s ending has to pose this question, and every fan has thought about it at least once: Is this the sorrowful ending that we all know has to come eventually?
The short answer is no, it is not. But the elongated answer is that it is approaching. And it’s approaching faster than fans would want.
Lundqvist was lights out at the beginning of the season last year, and as was the team as a whole. Remember when the Blueshirts went on that run in the first 15 games of the season? Who was leading the charge from the defensive end of the ice?
No. 30 in blue.
If you compared that to the Lundqvist we all saw during the first round playoff series against Pittsburgh, fans thought they were seeing a completely different player, one who is most definitely not the King of New York.
And this seems to be a common trend for Lundqvist as well. Fans have seen Hank showcase a dynamite season, one where he is up for Vezina contention, but then when the playoffs start he falls off and the whole team suffers.
The easiest way to explain this would be that it is just the King’s age getting to him. If he was asked how many games he wanted to play, there is no doubt in my mind that he wouldn’t say anything less than 82 (yes, a whole season).
But that cannot unfold because that would be far too much on the body and mind, and Hank’s total games played have fluctuated the past few seasons ranging between 43 games played and 65.
Another thing you have to keep in mind is whether the injury Lundqvist suffered in the 2014-15 season that kept him off the ice for a long time is truly plaguing him.
Last season was the first year where Lundqvist was not up for contention for the Vezina trophy, so that speaks volumes as well.
A few of the stats he put up last year were uncharacteristic for him. Posting a 2.48 Goals Against Average and having merely four shutouts was subpar for his standards. However, the defense could also be held accountable for some of those mishaps as well.
The defense last year was mediocre at best. At times they left Lundqvist out to dry, and for a man who has given everything to this club, that simply isn’t right.
He is 34-years-old, so the clock is ticking for him. Once Lundqvist is gone, RangersTown has to be prepared for a couple of dark years ahead, unless there is a dark horse waiting in the shadows of Madison Square Garden.
But in general, Henrik Lundqvist is still a fantastic goaltender. Who knows? He may come into camp this summer and be the best goalie in the league, be in the best shape of his life, and be ready to tackle a comeback season for his team.
When a new year begins people normally say, “It’s a new year, it’s a new me.”
Well, Henrik Lundqvist and the Rangers have a chance to say the very same thing. The only difference is that they could actually mean it.
September 27th is coming faster and faster every day. Buckle your seat belts, folks.