New York Rangers report cards 17-18: Henrik Lundqvist

PHILADELPHIA, PA - APRIL 07: Henrik Lundqvist
PHILADELPHIA, PA - APRIL 07: Henrik Lundqvist /

Despite the New York Rangers’ immensely disappointing 2017-18 season, Henrik Lundqvist showed that he is still an elite NHL goaltender.

Henrik Lundqvist finished 2016-17 with the worst stats of his career, finishing with a .910 save percentage. He shined in the playoffs, posting a 2.25 GAA and a .927 save percentage. While Lundqvist’s less than stellar 16-17 stats were more a product of the porous defensive play in front of him, a true competitor like Lundqvist still wasn’t satisfied.

He came into this season ready to rebound, and he most certainly did.

The entire team started off slow the first month of the season, as did Lundqvist, but he completely flipped the switch around November, and he absolutely carried the team for the entire season. But, obviously no one athlete can do it alone. The Rangers once again failed to surround Lundqvist with the proper talent, but that’s a story for another day.

Lundqvist spent November-February doing everything he could to claw the Rangers to a playoff spot. But, it was not to be, which was for the best. Management sent out the infamous letter to the fans and the rebuild was on. It came out last week that owner James Dolan offered Lundqvist an opportunity to leave if he didn’t want to stick through a rebuild; he refused. This just shows how dedicated Lundqvist is to the New York Rangers and to winning in New York.

Lundqvist spent the rest of the season doing everything he could to keep the Rangers afloat. It was sad to watch at times, Lundqvist doing absolutely everything he could, the team leaving him out to dry, and the former coach throwing him under the bus.

Lundqvist finished the season with a 2.98 GAA and a .915 save percentage. That save percentage is incredibly impressive when you look at the pitiful group of defensemen that played in front of Lundqvist this year.

What worked? What didn’t?

One problem that Lundqvist had this year was overuse, a problem which wasn’t even his fault. Alain Vigneault insisted on playing the 36 year old netminder 63 times this season, which is a ridiculous workload for someone Lundqvist’s age.

Part of this problem was a lack of a quality backup. In years past, the New York Rangers had Cam Talbot and then Antti Raanta to lean on. Ondrej Pavelec clearly wasn’t on the same level as his predecessors, and it was obvious that the coaching staff and management didn’t really trust him.

It was also insanity that Vigneault chose to continue to constantly play Lundqvist when the Rangers basically announced they were mailing in the season. He was clearly just trying to win games and save his job, which, thankfully, didn’t work.

This season, Lundqvist continued to be the consistent, legendary, future Hall of Fame goaltender that he has always been.

Next: New York Rangers: James Dolan and the front office have a plan

Final Grade- A

Henrik Lundqvist proved that he is still a very talented goaltender who is capable of leading a team to victory. Hopefully, with a new coaching staff and a new system employed that is based on puck possession, Lundqvist will continue to thrive and be the franchise cornerstone that we all know he is.