Time is not on 35-year-old Henrik Lundqvist’s side as he and the New York Rangers continue that pursuit of Lord Stanley’s Cup.
Henrik Lundqvist has been a winner at every level he has ever attempted to play.
He’s won an Olympic Gold Medal, World Championships and led the NHL in wins. He’s won The Vezina Trophy (awarded to the NHL’s top goalie), the New York Rangers Steven McDonald Award, and started the Henrik Lundqvist Foundation in conjunction with the Garden of Dreams.
There is only one title that’s been eluding him for over 12 years: Hank has never won the Stanley Cup, the most prestigious and difficult championship to obtain in all of sports.
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Entering his 13th NHL season, all with the New York Rangers, Henrik is a fan favorite. He is commonly known as the King with his iconic crown logo and number 30 recognized on his goalie equipment, apparel, and website.
Now, Lundqvist is being chased by something himself—time. Lundqvist is running out of time to get his name on the Cup. How many more seasons does he have left to reach his dream?
The Rangers selected Lundqvist in the seventh round (205th overall) in the 2000 NHL Draft. He made his NHL debut on Oct. 8, 2005, his first full season as the starting goalie and finished with 30 wins.
He’s consistently won 30 or more games in all but one season, but unfortunately for Hank and the Rangers, this consistency has not carried over to when it matters most: the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
The “Second Season,” as many call it, is a marathon of games played. It takes 16 wins to have the honor of hoisting the Stanley Cup. Four rounds played in a best-of-seven format.
The Stanley Cup Playoffs are typically full of hard-hitting, close-scoring games that often conclude in overtime. The marathon to sixteen wins is draining, emotionally and physically, on players, coaches and their fans.
The roller coaster ride begins in April and concludes sometimes in June and the closest Hank and the Rangers have made it to the elusive 16 wins was 13. That was back in 2014 when the Rangers lost four-games-to-one in the Stanley Cup Finals to the Los Angeles Kings.
It’s been the Rangers only appearance in the Finals since 1994.
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Injuries Take its Toll
Lundqvist has had his share of injuries, most notably a sprained blood vessel in his throat in February of 2015 that forced him to miss four weeks of action.
Then-backup Cam Talbot (who was traded to Edmonton later that summer) took the reins and carried the Rangers into the playoffs.
Last season, Hank missed some time with neck spasms and his backup, Antti Raanta, filled in until the King was able to return. After the team was eliminated from the playoffs by the Ottawa Senators, Henrik went to play for Team Sweden with his brother Joel in the World Championships.
Steve Zipay of Newsday reported that Hank had played through the championship game with a sprained MCL. While Lundqvist is confident that he’ll be ready for the start of training camp, all these injuries start to add up.
A 35-year-old goalie in today’s NHL doesn’t bounce back from injuries like someone 10 years younger. The time needed to recover from his latest injury is time Lundqvist can’t get back.
The current Rangers roster looks quite different than it did just two months ago when the season ended. The team appears to have it finest defensive unit in years in front of Lundqvist.
Not only will that help the Rangers win more games, but it should help Lundqvist in his quest for the Cup. Father Time waits for no one, so Lundqvist needs to catch his dream as quickly as he can.
Tick-tock, Henrik. Tick-tock.