Henrik Lundqvist
ESNY Graphic, Getty Images

The New York Rangers’ game plan for Henrik Lundqvist, which is foreign and new, makes complete sense for today’s NHL. 

NEW YORK, NY—It is still very early in the NHL season and New York Rangers head coach David Quinn understands that, but he is also very cognizant of the fact that the playing time of his star goalie, Henrik Lundqvist, must be monitored very closely.

It’s critical in the sense he can man down his familiar spot between the pipes when the games matter most. At this stage of the game, not feeling the after-effects of a tired body over a long season is paramount.

Both Henrik and Quinn addressed that fact after Wednesday night’s impressive 5-1 win over the Detroit Red Wings in which the Ranger defense looked solid throughout the game. Limiting the playing time of a superstar is never easy on a coach or the player, but serves as a very necessary process to ensure the Rangers will have the best chance for a successful season.

Too many times in sports, coaches try to catch up with time off for star players late in the season, and if the truth be told, the plan has to evolve over a full season to work out the best for all parties involved. The challenge is that a player like Henrik is not used to resting this much, and he has always played a majority of the games which, in his mind, keeps him sharp.

Quinn talked about that last night, saying that he expects his star goaltender to be disappointed in a playing time schedule he is unaccustomed to, but also credits him with the understanding that as a player moves on in his career, adjustments have to occur.

The end goal is obvious: ultimately help both the player and the organization over the long haul.

After the game last night, I had a chance to talk to Henrik about it and he revealed to me that he totally understood the process, and the only stat that matters is the “W” column in the NHL standings next to the Ranger name. This is a player that has exhibited this quality every waking moment he has worn a Ranger jersey and it is a big part of what makes him so special.

The bottom line here is if this team is going anywhere this season, they need a totally refreshed Henrik Lundqvist late in the season and, of course, during playoff time. And in order to accomplish that, his playing time must be monitored closely.

These conversations can sometimes be tricky, but these 2 men—Henrik Lundqvist and David Quinn—have addressed it in the best fashion, with honest and thoughtful conversations because both want the same thing, team success.

It fully illustrates how both men will play key roles in how this season goes for the New York Rangers.