People have been wondering for years if Henrik Lundqvist would finally fall off track and, you know, look human. After the New York Rangers’ zany 7-6 loss to the Dallas Stars, those rumblings are probably getting a little louder.
Don’t expect the Rangers to throw their star goalie under the bus, though, especially after a wide-open game like Tuesday’s goal-filled game at Madison Square Garden.
In fact, Rangers head coach Alain Vigneault is already penciling Lundqvist in for Thursday’s game against the rising Toronto Maple Leafs.
“He’s going to play, he’s going to try real hard, and we’re going to try to play better in front of him,” Vigneault said, according to the New York Post’s Brett Cyrgalis. “This is a team.”
Lundqvist, meanwhile, said about what you’d expect:
Naturally, Lundqvist and plenty of other Rangers threw the word embarrassing around quite a bit to describe this game, or at least the first 40 minutes. It’s just that no one’s really raking Lundqvist over the coals.
Is this time different?
Again, Lundqvist is no stranger to struggles, even if he struggles less often than just about any franchise goalie in recent memory.
Still, the sample size is getting large enough for this stretch to be a concern for the 34-year-old netminder.
While goal support and stretches of good play open the door for a respectable 18-12-1 record, Lundqvist’s allowing almost three goals per game (2.89 GAA) and has a backup-level .902 save percentage this season. And that’s over 32 games.
Things get even uglier if you focus on more recent events.
He’s allowed 20 goals in his past four starts, including allowing 12 tallies over four periods during the past two games. Lundqvist has a putrid .841 save percentage in January after producing great work in November (.925 save percentage in 11 games) and nice numbers in December (.915 in eight games).
Lundqvist has given up four goals or more on nine different occasions since Nov. 23.
In other words, there are a lot of different ways in which he’s struggling:
Is this a matter of Lundqvist regaining his focus or is “The King” finally abdicating his throne?
The Rangers are going to let him try to work through this. Otherwise, they might just need to hope that this is an off-year and *gulp* at least consider how far (an eventually healthy?) Antti Raanta could take them.