Henrik Lundqvist
(Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

Henrik Lundqvist has only known what it’s like to play for the playoffs, how will he react to not even competing for a playoff spot?

For Henrik Lundqvist and the New York Rangers, the mentality coming into the season has always been playoffs or bust. However, this season the Rangers don’t have that mentality and it leaves the question, how will Lundqvist react, and more importantly, how will he perform?

Typically Lundqvist comes into a season with the expectation to play 55-60 games in an attempt to keep him fresh for a potential playoff run. That plan, however, has only worked twice during the Alain Vigneault era, once due to injury. Now with David Quinn in the mix, that plan needs to remain intact.

Lundqvist is the type of player that seems to get better the more he plays. That trend is made obvious by his stats from the beginning of the season up until the end. He has a 55-42-13 record in the month of October, but those numbers are inflated by his early success. His last four October’s he has gone 20-17-4 allowing 111 goals in that span.

Once he gets into his grove, he’s unstoppable and that has continued throughout the latter stages of his career. Just a season ago, after starting the year 3-4-2 allowing 30 goals, he would go on to post an 18-9-2 record giving up just 47 goals. He showed once again that he has the ability to carry a team when they need him most.

When the team in front of Lundqvist starts to struggle will be the real test for the 36-year-old netminder. Will he take his frustration out on the ice like we have seen him do to former head coach Alain Vigneault? Or will he swallow it and let it affect his all-around game.

It will be utterly important for Lundqvist to be the leader that his reputation gives him. With a team having a roster that will be relatively young, it is important that Lundqvist is that calming force. How that affects his play on the ice should not matter this year.

Saying that sounds a bit ridiculous especially considering that you are talking about the best goaltender in franchise history. But the results do not matter this year. Lundqvist will tell you that, from a personal standpoint.

Twenty-seventeen-eighteen was the first time in Lundqvist’s career that he played a full season and did not post a 30-win season. That should continue in 2018-19, considering the team’s lack of firepower.

Although he still has the ability to steal some games, he won’t be able to do it all by himself. But this should not surprise anyone because this has been the case for his entire career. That’s why you cannot expect him to carry the team to a playoff spot in 2018-19.

The expectation for Lundqvist needs to be him being someone they can rely on to help take young players under his wing. To keep his composure in a season where it is going to be tested most. And most importantly to be someone who can steal some games when they need him most.

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Dominick is a graduate of Canisius College. He has covered the Rangers for the last seven seasons and the Yankees for the last four.