Proclaimed as the ‘King’ Henrik Lundqvist has found himself in the spotlight once again after his performance in the NHL 2018 Winter Classic game against the Buffalo Sabres. With four wins unanswered in the great outdoors giving him the most outdoor wins in NHL history Lundqvist will without doubts go down in the history books as one of the NHL’s greatest goalies. So why has Lundqvist never lifted the Stanley Cup?
Since his time with the New York Rangers starting back in 2005, there has only been one season where the Rangers did not qualify for the playoffs (2009-10). Out of all of these playoff appearances, the 2013-14 season was the only time Lundqvist had reached the finals in which the Rangers fell short to the LA Kings 4-1 of which his goals against average was 2.14 a small drop from that of the regular season.
But where are the Rangers falling short?
The issue appears to be that the Rangers offence falls flat every time they sustain a lead. In the 2013-14 the Rangers held a 2-0 lead in games one and two, however, by the end of the 60 minutes the Kings had drawn even. In 2016 the Rangers saw a 1-0 lead in game three turn into a 3-1 loss when the Pittsburgh Penguins scored three unanswered goals. In the 2006-7 conference semi-finals against the Buffalo Sabres, the Rangers gave up a 2-1 lead in game two and a 1-0 lead in game 6. Worst of all may be the 2010-11 Stanley Cup playoffs where the Rangers gave up a 3-0 lead in the 3rd period to the Washington Capitals to lose 4-3 in overtime during game four.
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In all of these faceoffs, it is hard to blame Lundqvist when he is sustaining save percentages of a .920 average. On the flipside, it is possible to blame defensive turnovers.
For instance, Ryan McDonaugh’s turnover inches away from home net in game two saw the LA King’s draw even in the 3rd period, or the fact that during the Stanley Cup playoffs Girardi had around a 42-45% possession rate around one of the lowest for an NHL defenceman. Mark Staal another Rangers great has also seen 46 giveaways within the last four playoffs. With rates like these coming from NYR defencemen it’s understandable as to why the team ends up falling short.
Now, it is important to point out that although Lundqvist has not yet held a cup he has been awarded many a trophy. The King has received 26 trophies during his professional career, 17 of which he has seen with the Rangers, and 3 that have been international. He also holds 15 NHL records including the fastest goaltender to accumulate 400 wins throughout history and being the only goaltender in NHL history to record 30 wins in each of his first seven seasons.
The King may not yet have a cup, but he is certainly a King and if he continues to play like he wears a crown it will only be a matter of time before he finds his gold.