If you think the New York Rangers are bad with Henrik Lundqvist, imagine how bad they’d be without the team’s MVP in a lost 2017-18 season.
The New York Rangers are bad. In fact, with an absentminded defensive scheme, inexperienced players up and down the lineup, and abominable coaching, the Rangers, on the surface, are one of the five worst teams in the NHL.
They’d be one of the league’s three worst without goalie Henrik Lundqvist, arguably the greatest player in the history of the organization, and unquestionably the team’s MVP in 2017-18.
Lundqvist, an aging but still elite goaltender, has played very well this season. Take the team’s conditions into account—young and inexperienced defense, bad defensive schemes, poor coaching, and team injuries—and the truth is that he’s had an excellent season.
Heading into play Monday night, Lundqvist sat with a 25-23-6 record, .916 save percentage and an immense GAA of 2.92. His GSAA is at 4.56. His GPS has been as high as 10.8.
If both a GAA and a save percentage are high, that is indicative of a grueling game-by-game experience for the goaltender. Lundqvist has a very solid SV percentage coupled with an otherworldly high GAA. This indicates that the standard game for Lundqvist is a shot-heavy one.
Highly advanced statistics—and even the standard eye-test—show that Lundqvist is not facing 35 shots from the mid-boards. He is facing high-quality scoring chances in every game on a regular basis.
Consistent defensive breakdowns invariably result in consistent opportunities in the slot for the opposition, often with time to pick a corner. Breakaways and odd-man rushes resulting from costly turnovers by inexperienced defenseman and screened deflections by players who were failed to be cleared out from the crease simply add to the arduous and daunting task Lundqvist has to endure this season.
The 2017-18 New York Rangers summarized in one GIF pic.twitter.com/FDSfFtIbHs
— Dimitri Filipovic (@DimFilipovic) March 9, 2018
Additionally, Lundqvist is not being rested during the tanking process. While this is blasphemous, head coach Alain Vigneault is coaching for his job. He’s going to give his poorly constructed and coached team a chance to win. The 36-year-old Lundqvist gives Vigneault his best chance to add another “W” in the win column.
With 58 games under his belt already, King Henrik has already eclipsed his season total from last season (57). Back then, he was well-rested and able to carry the Rangers through the first-round of the playoffs and deep into the second.
If Lundqvist were 28 years old, that’d be one thing. But he’s not. He’s 36 and playing far too many games.
Lundqvist needs to take a back seat to backup Alexandar Georgiev for the remainder of the season. He has been worked to a massive extent and needs all the rest he can get to preserve his career as long as humanly possible.
Yes, sitting him down would bring an end to his four-year streak of recording at least regular-season wins, but it’s the right thing to do by Lundqvist.
The New York Rangers, contrary to what some fans may have to say, owe Lundqvist everything. He has carried them through the playoffs, has been a leader, and maintained a remarkably clean record throughout his time in the Big Apple.
They’ve wasted the career of a generational talent.They failed to build around him properly. The least they could do is grant Lundqvist a break, not only from the wear-and-tear that an NHL goalie deals with but from the ineptitude surrounding the team.
It’s the least they could do.