Time is running out on Lundqvist to get his game in order
Ten goals against since Henrik Lundqvist returned. It’s a staggering number and one that should give Rangers’ fans concern. Let’s face it, this has not been a very good year for the franchise goalie and it’s time to stop sugarcoating it.
As it stand right now, Lundqvist is likely to finish with the highest GAA ever in his career coupled with the lowest SV%. His 2.74 is 10% higher than last year’s career worse 2.48 and 15% higher than his career GAA of 2.32. Last year’s numbers were easier to digest because of his .920 SV% which is equal to his career number, but at .911 and falling this season, there’s cause for concern.
Of course not every goal against is Henrik’s fault. This defense has been at times downright atrocious. Still, these numbers aren’t an accident either. Since the Cup run of 2013-14, Lundqvist’s amount of games where he’s given up 4 or more has risen and his sub .900 sv% performance has as well.
Since everyone needs charts these days…
As you can see, aside from the anomaly of 37% in 2013/14, his numbers are trending in the wrong way. You can attribute a majority of Henrik’s sub .900 games in that season to the Rangers struggle to learn AV’s new system for several months.
What’s more staggering is that in almost half the games Lundqvist has played this year, he’s posted a SV% under .900. This is all happening in a season where he should be more rested playing in just 53 games so far. It’s a huge problem that can no longer be ignored.
It’s Everyone Else’s Fault But Hank’s
Talking about Henrik Lundqvist in a negative manner is met as fiercely as talking about Dan Girardi in a positive one. The legion of “It’s Never Hank’s Fault” fans are numerous and fervorous. To be fair, Lundqvist has earned a bit of a pass because he seems to always right the ship when it counts.
The excuses this year are the same as last year…”it’s the defense”. “We don’t score enough”…or my favorite…”the Rangers play different in front of Hank.” For the record, New York with 5 games to go has already blown by last year’s goal for mark of 236 with 245. The Rangers have given up 206 goals against and will roughly finish a little worse than last year’s 217 goals against. So it makes the first two arguments seem irrelevant.
Now for the notion of the Rangers playing different in front of Henrik…ridiculous. I spoke with MSG Analyst, Steve Valiquette about this mid season and he affirmed the Rangers don’t play 2 different systems based on goaltender. I was embarrassed to have even asked the question.
Furthermore, Antti Raanta‘s 4+ goals against and sub .900 performance have declined this year while playing in more games. Again…here’s a chart in order to make it real for the new age hockey fans.
The bottom line is this, Raanta has been sharper and more consistent for the Rangers this season and that is a STATISTICAL FACT (2.26 GAA, .922 SV%).
5 Games Before Oblivion
Here is the cold hard truth…no matter what, Alain Vigneault will be going with Lundqvist (if healthy) to start the playoffs. That gives Lundqvist roughly 3-4 games to get his game together.
If Henrik and the Rangers can’t sync up before game one of the playoffs, it won’t matter who the opponent is…this will be another first round bounce. Unless of course, AV decides to start Raanta.
Man, the firestorm that would cause.