Looking Back and Ahead: Henrik Lundqvist

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Reflecting on 2013-14

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MATT: This wasn't the best season for Henrik Lundqvist in some ways, and in many more ways, it was. Hank started the season struggling a bit — though in fairness, most of the team did — but really turned the corner in about December. It appeared that once he signed an extension with the Rangers in early December, things turned back around for Hank. He gave the Rangers a chance to win every night, and the Rangers were able to put their struggles from earlier in the season in the rear-view mirror and had a very strong finish. Along the way, Lundqvist seemingly broke every big Rangers goaltending record, including passing Mike Richter for wins and Ed Giacomin for shutouts, leading to the Rangers honoring him before a game late in the year.

In the postseason, Lundqvist was simply superb all three rounds against some of the most offensively-gifted players in the NHL. He went 5-1 with the Rangers facing elimination, including Game 7 wins over the Flyers and Penguins, the later of which he rallied off three consecutive wins to erase a 3-1 series defict.

For those of us lucky enough to have watched Lundqvist's journey from a rookie in 2005 through now, this season was a special one, as Lundqvist came as close as he ever has to winning it all.

 

JIM: Many times last season Henrik Lundqvist referred to 2013-14 as the most difficult and trying season of his career. While it's true the team struggled under new head coach Alain Vigneault at the start of the season, Lundqvist was not able to be the foundation--the rock--the team neded him to be, either. Something---perhaps many things--were not quite right. Lundqvist was just "off" his game. Then he was hurt for a bit with an undisclosed injury, plus there's no doubt his uncertain contract status played on his mind and affected his game, too. However when the calendar flipped to 2014 Lundqvist turned his game around and more resembled the elite netminder we all have come to know over the last decade. Where he was 12-5-2 with a 2.70 GAA in the first half of the season, Lundqvist went 21-10-2 with a 2.20 GAA in the season's second half, and also backstopped Sweden to a silver medal in Sochi. Come playoff time Lundqvist was playing the best hockey of his season and he in no uncertain terms led the Rangers into the Stanley Cup Final, where he--at times--put on a one-man show of sheer will to keep the Rangers season alive. As Matt pointed out Henrik played incredibly well in elimination games--none better than his signature Game Seven performance in Pittsburgh to cap the team's comeback from a 3-1 series deficit. All in all, especially when focusing on the end results in the post-season, it was a special year for Henrik Lundqvist.