New York Rangers: Henrik Lundqvist Has Allowed Us To Breathe


After such a whirlwind and spectacular stretch from Cam Talbot, New York Rangers fans everywhere were a bit concerned about the future. Not anymore.

Diehard New York Rangers fan or not, you were a little worried.

Of course Henrik Lundqvist is the franchise. Of course he is the face for which the Rangers are identified with. Of course it will be him who’ll be incredibly responsible for the team’s successes or failures each postseason.

We have always known this.

However, the fact that Cam Talbot put forth one of those legendary stretches while “The King” ailed from his fluky neck injury made even the most diehard Blue-Seater be reluctantly raise a brow.

Talbot finished his stretch as Rangers starting goalie by putting up a 16-4-3 record while improving upon his sparkling 2.25 goals against average (GAA) and obscene .927 save percentage (SV%). The scariest thought of all was the fact that Talbot was even better than those numbers.

Upon assuming the starting role, New York was lingering around the No. 3 seed in the Metropolitan division. They were still stuck in that anxious spot which teeters on the brink of a Wild Card.

When it was all said and done, and Lundqvist came back on March 28 to face the Boston Bruins, he took back his role with the Rangers in firm control of the division. They have since clinched the Metropolitan crown.

The stretch without Hank was something out of a magical hockey story. Something too good to be true. Something that made us think something higher in power was at work.

Apr 4, 2015; New York, NY, USA; New York Rangers goaltender Henrik Lundqvist (30) looks on during the second period against the New Jersey Devils at Madison Square Garden. The Rangers defeated the Devils 6-1. Mandatory Credit: Andy Marlin-USA TODAY Sports

Considering Talbot’s stretch and Lundqvist’s possible rust, our mind decides to play dangerous games with itself –  the blasphemy of thinking Talbot should remain the starter once Lundqvist returns.

I mean why not?

Remember the 1990 New York Giants? Phil Simms was their guy. He was the Super Bowl MVP just four short years earlier, leading the Giants to victory as he set Super Bowl accuracy records.

When backup Jeff Hostetler reeled off win after win and the team didn’t miss a beat without Simms, Bill Parcells elected to stick with Hostletler the rest of the way.

We all know what happened – the Giants knocked off the Buffalo Bills 20-19 thanks to “Wide Right.”

Simms was a champion. Lundqvist still isn’t.

Was is that unreasonable to think Alain Vigneault would stick with the hot hand that seems more magical than Wisconsin beating Kentucky? Regardless of how stellar Lundqvist has been through his career, there is something to be said about maintaining team chemistry.

Honestly? Yes it was unreasonable to think Talbot would remain the starter.

Lundqvist was so good starting with Game 5 of the Pittsburgh series last year that under no circumstances should he lose his job due to injury.

Adding on top of the fact that Talbot’s run was ridiculous, is the fact that Lundqvist always seems to start seasons slow. We’ve seen it time and time again. Vigneault himself has seen it. Last season the entire team struggled to get off to the right foot, and again this season Lundqvist struggled in October and November.

Coming back when Lundqvist did was perfect. The question remained whether or not he’d get back into the flow before the playoffs hit.

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Well, he has, and it’s put all Rangers fan at ease.

His first game resulted in a 4-2 loss against the Bruins. Not only was Hank a little rusty, but the Rangers played god-awful in front of him.

Next, he started in goal in Winnipeg against the Jets. While not spectacular, Lundqvist showed some signs of a quick revival as he led his team to a 3-2 victory.

To put the proverbial cherry on top, the Rangers netminder was incredibly strong against the Minnesota Wild last Thursday and acted as his dominant self during the Devils game last night. Although his team amassed six goals against New Jersey, it didn’t mean he had a cupcake of a night. He had to face 36 shots and stopped all but one.

Regardless of your ever-dying loyalties to the man through Talbot-mania, Lundqvist has recently allowed all of us to breathe a sigh of relief.

With only four games left in the 2014-15 regular season, Lundqvist and the Rangers have put themselves in the absolute perfect spot heading into the playoffs.

Next: Rangers Blow The Devils Out Of The Water

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