These are rough times for the King.
Henrik Lundqvist, who for the better part of a decade has been a brick wall for the Rangers, is going through arguably the toughest stretch of his career. He allowed seven goals on 27 shots in a loss to the Stars on Tuesday, and 12 on 49 shots in his last four periods played.
If you go back over his last four games, it’s a staggering 20 goals on 113 shots.
His head coach knows something is wrong.
“There’s no doubt that there is a confidence issue with Hank,” Alain Vigneault said, per the New York Post. “Hank has had some moments in the past, probably never to this degree.
“So he’s in new territory, we’re in new territory to some extent.”
As Vigneault said, Lundqvist’s had some struggles before. The end of last year wasn’t very good — he struggled in late in the year, and was torched in an opening-round playoff loss to the Penguins.
Thing is, both Lundqvist and the Rangers conceded a large part of those struggles were due to the guys playing in front of him, and all the glorious scoring opportunities they allowed.
So it’s telling that Vigneault and Lundqvist aren’t using that theory this time around. In fact, AV went to far as to suggest the opposite — that Lundqvist’s poor play is actually affecting the guys in front of him.
“Sometimes that can trickle down a little bit with the other guys when something happens on the ice,” he explained.
The other big difference with this particular stretch of struggle is that there’s no safety valve. Lundqvist’s traditionally had good backups — Cam Talbot and Antti Raanta, most notably — but Raanta is now sidelined with injury, leaving untested Magnus Hellberg as the club’s No. 2.
(Even during his World Cup struggles, Lundqvist had a capable backup in Jacob Markstrom to lighten the load.)
As such, it’s solely on King Henrik to turn this around. And he knows it.
“I feel like it’s embarrassing and frustrating and disappointing at the same time,” Lundqvist said, per NHL.com. “I need to find another level.
“It’s not good enough.”