On some nights, trying to get a shot by Henrik Lundqvist is as impossible a task as any. He’s one of the fiercest competitors and has immense focus. It’s the reason why Lundqvist has risen to the upper echelon of NHL goalies this season and may walk away with national recognition June 20 at the NHL Awards show.
But with every hockey player, they have a weakness for two. For Henrik Lundqvist, it’s his glove hand. While not terrible, Hank’s glove has been the target for most teams to shoot at when trying to figure out how to beat the Swedish sensation.
The Capitals are the latest to test that weakness.
Washington goalie coach and former great Olaf Kolzig recently spoke to Chuck Gormley of Capitals Insider about finding Henrik Lundqvist’s soft spots and offered this insight:
“You look at him and you think, ‘Geez, he plays pretty deep, you should be able to pick his pocket,’” Capitals associate goalie coach Olie Kolzig said. “But his angles are so good and he plays so wide. You’ve got to beat him with a good shot, a good high shot.”
What Kolzig failed to mention is that few are as quick down low with their legs and playing post-to-post as Lundqvist is. But what the former Capitals goaltender mentions as a “weakness” is nothing new to the NHL. Players have tried to shoot high to the glove on Lundqvist since his debut during the 2005-06 campaign, with some being successful but most denied.
While there’s no official stat to back up the claim, from the naked eye it looked as if Lundqvist worked on improving his glove hand over the summer and translated it into his successful 2011-12 regular season. When he’s on his game, it’s tough to get a shot past Lundqvist from anywhere on the ice.
The timing of the quote is interesting as both teams head into Game 5 looking to grab the series lead from the other. Is this Washington’s way of possibly getting into Lundqvist’s head? It seemed more like Kolzig just offering some honest insight and, in a way, paying a compliment to Hank.
Lundqvist and the Rangers may brush aside these comments as nothing, but to say publicly a way to beat the Rangers star netminder is gamesmanship isn’t that far off.