Henrik Lundqvist made 18 saves to record his 42nd career playoff victory and ninth career playoff shutout. The Rangers goaltender has posted a 12-7 record in the playoffs this year, including a 6-4 mark at home. Lundqvist passed Mike Richter for first on the Rangers’ all-time playoff wins list, and tied Richter for first on the team’s all-time playoff shutout list. Lundqvist has allowed two goals or fewer in 15 of 20 playoff games this year. The Rangers’ all-time wins leader in both regular season and playoff action leads the NHL in wins (12), is tied for first in SV% (.928), and ranks second in GAA (2.03) in the playoffs.
There will be quibbles and debates, but the reality is you can’t find another goalie in this era with the kind of credentials that Henrik Lundqvist can boast. He has a career .920 save percentage, second to only Dominik Hasek in NHL history, and he has been at that mark or better now in five consecutive seasons. He has been nominated for the Hart Trophy as the league’s MVP, an extreme rarity these days for a goalie. He has also finished in the top six in Vézina Trophy voting every single year he’s been in the NHL, a run of eight seasons that’s sure to become nine when totals are released next month. In a time when so many backstops are considered good but not great, and when who’s the best seems to shift by the season, Lundqvist is always in the conversation. Not bad for a seventh-round draft pick 14 years ago from the Swedish ski-resort town of Are. The only thing Lundqvist lacks now is the one thing that has come with every Hall of Fame netminder’s candidacy in recent years, from Patrick Roy to Grant Fuhr and Ed Belfour. A Stanley Cup. It’s not fair to pin that on Lundqvist – many of the Rangers teams he has played on over the years were competitive primarily due to his play. The fact is that, in this 30-team era, more great players are going to go Cup-less than ever before, and – at age 32 – Lundqvist is in danger of headlining that group. But he has a heckuva chance in front of him at the moment; one win against the Montreal Canadiens is all he needs to qualify for his first Stanley Cup final and to play on the NHL’s biggest stage. It’s been a long time coming. It’s been a long time deserved. “It’s going to be a tough game,” Lundqvist said of the Rangers’ first opportunity to close out the Habs – in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference final on Tuesday. “But it’s exciting, too, to know that you’re one game away. I mean, you have to motivate yourself to get to a level where you’re helping the team, and that’s pretty good motivation right there.” If the past few weeks have proven anything, it’s that the suave Swede is already a hockey god on Broadway. His accomplishments are viewed as so routine that they don’t always require plaudits any more, with teammates often shrugging and offering up a “That’s Hank” in response to his latest marvellous save or game. Lundqvist’s Game 4 win – in which New York spent nearly 15 minutes on the penalty kill – bumped his save percentage to .931 and gave him his 41st career playoff win, 22nd-best in league history and tying him with Mike Richter for the franchise record. “It’s always a proud feeling when you’re up there with those guys,” Lundqvist said. “He’s as good as he’s been all year,” coach Alain Vigneault said. “He’s in a zone.” Since he entered the league, Lundqvist has played in more postseason games (85) than anyone except Pittsburgh’s Marc-André Fleury, but so many have been losses, with his career playoff record sitting at an ugly 30-37 prior to going 11-7 so far this year. His individual numbers, however, are right up there with many of the goalies who have won Cups in that span, on par with Jonathan Quick and Corey Crawford and miles better than Cam Ward, J.S. Giguere and Fleury. Lundqvist has almost always been good for the saves – especially in recent years. His teammates haven’t always responded with the goals in front of him. The Rangers loss in the conference finals two years ago hurt in particular, with the rival New Jersey Devils and Martin Brodeur outduelling them in a tight, defensive series that was Lundqvist’s first taste of life beyond the second round. He had two shutouts in New York’s two wins in the first three games, but the Rangers were worn down by ex-coach John Tortorella’s short bench and scored only 14 times in the six-game series. “It felt like we didn’t reach our full potential,” Lundqvist explained. “It felt like we had some more to give, and that is something you want to make sure this time around that you put everything out there. “Every practice now – everything – every little thing I can do now to help my game I’m trying to do that and trying to do it the right way so I can help this team to win games. It’s fun when you challenge yourself to try to reach your top level, and that’s what you’re trying to do every game. But especially when it comes down to important games. You want to try to be there for your team, and it’s definitely about pushing yourself.” This is a better Rangers team than two years ago. They have more depth, are better coached and far more equipped to contend for a championship, something they’re on the verge of doing for the first time since 1994. Even so, if they can close out Montreal, the Rangers are going to be in tough come the finals. Whoever advances out of the West – Chicago or Los Angeles – will be a heavy favourite, and it will fall to Lundqvist to carry the underdogs on his back in a way he wasn’t able to against the Devils. It’s a tall task. But the good news for New York is that everything King Henrik has done to date suggests that kind of series is well within his reach.
For all the dramatics of the Rangers’ series against Montreal — the controversy surrounding Canadiens goalie Carey Price’s knee injury; the rhetoric over head shots, suspensions and spying; and Martin St. Louis’s laser shot that won Game 4 in overtime — there has been one quiet constant for the Rangers: the brilliance of goaltender Henrik Lundqvist. Heading into Game 5 on Tuesday, the Rangers stand within one victory of the Stanley Cup finals, the closest Lundqvist has come to hockey’s ultimate prize. And there is good reason to believe he is capable of leading them there, because Lundqvist has never played better. “You don’t think about what’s ahead,” Lundqvist said after the Rangers’ 3-2 victory in overtime Sunday, acknowledging that the Rangers still had to close out the series against the Canadiens. “But it’s exciting, too, to know that you’re one game away.” Lundqvist, 32, enters the game with a .931 save percentage, the best among regular goalies in the playoffs. It is the first time in his stellar nine-season N.H.L. career that he has led the league in that all-important goaltending statistic. Lundqvist, who won an Olympic gold medal in 2006 and a Vezina trophy in 2012, has carried the Rangers year after year. He is routinely excellent, but in the playoffs, he has never quite been at his best. In recent postseasons, the distinction of logging the best save percentage has belonged to other goalies, all of whom have lifted the Cup: Tuukka Rask, Jonathan Quick, Tim Thomas and Marc-Andre Fleury. But the Cup has been elusive for Lundqvist. In 2012, he helped the Rangers reach the Eastern Conference finals before they fell to the Devils in overtime in Game 6. Afterward, he talked about his career in terms of time dwindling and his diminishing chances of winning the Cup. He expressed disappointment in the fact that the Rangers had gotten so close to the Cup finals. After the Rangers were eliminated in the second round last year, he said the team had taken “a step back.” “You work so hard to be in position to win,” Lundqvist said then. “It doesn’t matter where you are in your career. If you have an opportunity, you have to grab it. I’m disappointed. Hopefully, next year will be better.” It has been much better, but Lundqvist is well aware that a 3-1 series lead does not guarantee victory. After all, he was in goal when the Rangers blew a 3-1 series lead for the first time in team history, against Washington in 2009. He also was in goal when the Rangers rallied from the same deficit this month to eliminate the Pittsburgh Penguins in the second round. Lundqvist was the biggest catalyst in that comeback, allowing only one goal in each of the last three games while turning back 102 shots. In four games against the Canadiens, he has stopped 109 of 117 shots, including 27 of 29 in Sunday’s victory. It was the 41st playoff victory of Lundqvist’s career, tying him for the club record with Mike Richter, the Stanley Cup-winning goalie in 1994 — the last time the Rangers made the finals. Earlier this season, Lundqvist took over the lead from Richter on the Rangers’ career regular-season wins list and from Ed Giacomin on the club’s career shutout list. “There are so many great goaltenders that played for this organization, and earlier this year I beat a couple records, and it means a lot to me,” Lundqvist said Sunday. “This organization, I’ve been part of it for nine years, and I’m going to be part of it for a long time, I hope.” Lundqvist’s Canadiens counterpart, the rookie Dustin Tokarski, has scrambled and scuttled and dived to keep the Canadiens in the series, and he has attracted a lot of well-deserved praise. “He’s a battler, and most important thing, he’s a winner,” Montreal Coach Michel Therrien said of Tokarski. Lundqvist has flown a bit more under the radar, but only because his excellence is almost taken for granted. But he has been stronger and steadier in goal. “I don’t know if you’ve seen him play the last few weeks,” Brian Boyle said of his teammate Lundqvist earlier in this series, “but he’s been on another planet.”
BROSSARD, QUE. – Standing at a lectern on a riser far from the lights of Manhattan, Michel Therrien laid out what he saw as a path to hope for the Montreal Canadiens. Scoring first is the key, the coach said, before conceding, “usually to win a hockey game, you need to get three goals.” Was Canadiens’ fatigue to blame for Game 4 loss to Rangers? His team has not won a game this spring when it scores fewer than three goals, including its Eastern Conference final series with the New York Rangers. Montreal is on the verge of elimination heading into Game 5 at home on Tuesday night, in large part because of a very significant barrier to getting those three goals a game. And it might be the best-looking barrier in hockey. Rangers goaltender Henrik Lundqvist has kept the Canadiens to fewer than three goals in all three New York wins. He allowed three goals in his only loss of the series, but two of those beat him only after taking odd bounces off bodies in front of his net. Lundqvist had the best save-percentage in the playoffs on Monday. He had allowed three goals in only four of 18 games — stingier than Los Angeles Kings starter Jonathan Quick (eight times in 17 games) and Chicago Blackhawks starter Corey Crawford (seven in 15) heading into their meeting Monday night. And now, Lundqvist is one win from his first appearance in the Stanley Cup final. “It’s exciting … to know that you’re one game away,” he said late on Sunday night. “You have to motivate yourself to get to a level where you’re helping the team, and that’s pretty good motivation right there.” Lundqvist arrived at the lectern in Manhattan 40 minutes after the Rangers emerged with an overtime win in Game 4. His teammates had already met with reporters in the dressing room, and his coach had already taken his turn. Everyone else was a warmup act for him. In 2012, People magazine named Lundqvist one of the sexiest men alive, describing him as “just the man to heat up the ice” despite all of his clunky goaltending equipment. The 32-year-old has also appeared in Vogue and on The Late Show with David Letterman. He has also prepared an apple pie on air with Martha Stewart, with the host asking him how many “fabulous blocks” he had made in the previous night’s game. “New York fits him,” Swedish centre Henrik Zetterberg told Sports Illustrated two years ago. “He wears it well, like his suits. The culture, the food, the fashion … If he wins [the Stanley Cup], just give him the key.” Lundqvist wore a tailored grey suit to the lectern on Sunday night, his beard trimmed, his hair styled to the point where someone might wonder where he was headed, at midnight, on a Sunday. The answer, even if he was headed home: Probably somewhere fabulous. He has made a home in New York, where the Rangers lucked into a franchise goaltender with the 205th pick in the 2000 NHL Draft. (The Islanders, that other team in New York, picked goaltender Rick DiPietro first overall that year.) With his win on Sunday, Lundqvist tied Mike Richter (41) for the most playoff wins in franchise history. Earlier in the season, Lundqvist became the team’s all-time leader in regular season wins (309) and shutouts (50). “I’ve been part of it for nine years, and I’m going to be part of it for a long time, I hope,” he said with a smile. “I’m just really proud to be out there with those guys and hopefully can keep it going a little more.” He has not been infallible against the Canadiens. Defenceman Francis Bouillon beat him on a clean shot from inside the faceoff circle on Sunday night, and Alexei Markov beat him cleanly from the other side in the previous game. Most of the eight goals the Canadiens have scored, though, have been through traffic, or through fortunate bounces. “He’s like any goalie, he’s great at making the first save,” Canadiens captain Brian Gionta said. “You’ve got to get screens, tips and rebounds on him. And you’ve got to make sure that you get second and third opportunities. That’s how it is across the board with all the goalies now.” Teammate Tomas Plekanec said that means the Canadiens will have to spend more time near the net, getting in his way, obstructing his view. “We’ve just got to keep wearing him down, keep in front of the net,” he said. “That’s one thing we can to more, too: We can put more pucks in the crease.” They are down to their final chance. If the Canadiens fail, the Rangers will advance to the Stanley Cup for the first time since 1994, this being the 20-year anniversary of the team’s last NHL championship. The action would shift to Manhattan, where Lundqvist is known simply as “The King.” “You don’t think about what’s ahead,” he said. “You’re just going in and trying to do your job here. It’s going to be a tough game … I look forward to that challenge.”
On yet another occasion when Henrik Lundqvist deeply enmeshed himself in the Rangers' heritage, the heritage was there to watch. It was fitting that he tied the franchise record for most playoff victories while Mike Richter, who shares the mark, and Ed Giacomin were in the stands. "It's a proud feeling when you're up there with those guys," he said after the 3-2 overtime victory in Game 4 Sunday, the 41st postseason win in his career. "There are so many great goaltenders that played for this organization. Earlier this year, I beat a couple records, and it means a lot to me. This organization, I've been part of it for nine years, and I'm going to be part of it for a long time, I hope. Yeah, I'm just really proud to be out there with those guys and hopefully can keep it going a little more." Someday, Lundqvist is sure to join those two in the rafters. Having become the all-time regular-season leader in wins and shutouts this season, he is a lock to be the third Rangers goalie to have his number retired. For now, entering Game 5 in Montreal tonight, he is one victory from going to the Stanley Cup Final, where Giacomin (and Gilles Villemure) brought the Rangers in 1972 and Richter delivered them in 1994. Like both of them, Lundqvist came up through the Rangers' ranks (Giacomin technically came from Providence of the AHL in a deal that involved Suffolk Hall of Famer Buzzy Deschamps). And like both Richter and Giacomin, he is one of the most beloved figures in Rangers history. Lundqvist keeps earning the affection. He inspired the crowd and his team with his poise during the Canadiens' furious display in the third period Sunday, when the game was tied. He was a bit fortunate that Alex Galchenyuk's late shot hit the knob of his stick and then the crossbar before it bounced on the friendly side of the goal line. "I wasn't sure if I got enough of the shot," he said. "But again, they have some skilled players that are going to make some plays. That time, I had that [luck], but there have been some weird goals. That's the way it goes. It's a quick game." As usual, it was far more skill than luck for Lundqvist. Stephane Matteau, another all-time popular Ranger who was at the game, said the other day, "I think he has plastic glass behind him at times because he looks so good." Lundqvist made another contribution to Rangers history Sunday, aside from improving his postseason record to 41-44. He got the first playoff assist by a Rangers goalie since Richter did it on Esa Tikkanen's goal in Game 5 against the Devils on May 11, 1997. He began the play that ended with Derick Brassard's goal with 56 seconds left in the second period. "I didn't do much in that, but it feels good," he said. "We've talked about me playing the puck more to help the 'D' out. I think that part has been really good." The best part for him is being on the verge of making it to his first Final. "It's going to be a tough game. I look forward to that challenge," Lundqvist said. "It's exciting, too, to know that you're one game away. I mean, you have to motivate yourself to get to a level where you're helping the team, and that's pretty good motivation right there."
Henrik Lundqvist made 27 saves to record his 41st career playoff victory and improve to 11-7 in the playoffs this year. The Rangers goaltender has also posted a 5-4 record at home in the playoffs this year. Lundqvist’s 11 playoffs wins are the most he has had in one year in his career, and he is tied with Mike Richter for first on the team’s all-time playoff wins list. Lundqvist has allowed two goals or fewer in 14 of 18 playoff games this year, and leads the NHL in wins, GAA (1.98) and SV% (.931) in the playoffs. The Rangers goaltender tallied his first career playoff point with an assist in the contest.
Henrik Lundqvist made 22 saves in the contest. He has now posted a 10-7 record in the playoffs this year, including a 4-4 mark at home. The Rangers’ all-time wins leader has posted a 5-1 record with a 1.50 GAA and a .953 SV% in his last six games. Lundqvist leads the NHL in wins (10) and SV% (.931), and is tied for first in GAA (1.99) in the playoffs.
NEW YORK -- It is not easy to embarrass Henrik Lundqvist, unless, of course, you tell him he is the best athlete in New York. At his Madison Square Garden locker Wednesday, after he was done saying all the tempered things a franchise player needs to say when leading 2-0 in an Eastern Conference finals, Lundqvist was approached by a reporter with the following premise: Derek Jeter is retiring, and Martin Brodeur isn't far behind. Carmelo Anthony has missed the playoffs, and Eli Manning has been temporarily sacked. The Nets are the Nets, the Jets are the Jets, and the Mets are most certainly the Mets, leaving the King as the certified king of the big city, and everything his injured buddy Matt Harvey aspires to be. Lundqvist laughed an uncomfortable laugh upon hearing a summary of the above.
"Well, I don't know," he said. "It's flattering that you say it that way. It's kind of hard to compare athletes from different sports. How can you, really? There are so many great players in all the major sports in this city." Just none as great as Lundqvist, and the gap between the goalie and the competition is much wider than the gap between the New York Rangers and Montreal Canadiens. "I would never discuss it that way, but if you want to do that, that's fine," Lundqvist said before letting go of another laugh. "It makes me a little uncomfortable. In hockey, to have success you really need your teammates to support you and help you play your game. When you're a good hitter in baseball, you hit the ball and that's it. But for me to be able to play at a good level, I need to feel the support. I need at critical moments to get that block, to get that stick in the way. That's made me feel great the last couple of months." Truth is, a hockey goalie controls the outcome of a game in ways that other athletes (NFL quarterbacks included) cannot. Truth is, Lundqvist has elevated his team more than his team has elevated him, even if Montreal's P.K. Subban suggested that the dominant force in this series isn't the opposing goalie, but the four-leaf clover the opposing goalie has tucked inside his pads. Earth to Subban: Even to the untrained hockey eye, Lundqvist is a lot of things, and lucky ain't one of 'em. Of course, Lundqvist was willing to play along with this low, two-day drama after his Garden practice, conceding that any athlete in a game so fast and unpredictable needs a friendly bounce or three before reminding reporters that the hardest workers usually "earn those bounces." This was the goalie's subtle way of turning away yet another shot from the Canadiens, who fired 41 on net in Game 2, 40 of them in vain.
"It's definitely an important position, goalie, and going into big games I think you definitely feel the pressure," Lundqvist told ESPNNewYork.com. "But you try to look at it as a fun challenge, to have a big part in the outcome. You know if you don't play well, you're not going to win. You know that. "Ever since I got here, my dream and my goal is to win the Stanley Cup, and the more time I spend here the bigger that desire gets. So it would mean everything for me to win the Cup for New York. We have a lot of work still ahead of us here, but it's definitely what drives me the most, the desire to win." That desire has fueled a staggering run of brilliance from Lundqvist, who has saved 162 of 168 shots over the Rangers' five-game playoff winning streak, and who is riding his own personal five-game winning streak in Game 7s -- just in case the Canadiens rebound Thursday and Sunday nights at the Garden and take this series the distance. The smart money says that isn't going to happen, not with Lundqvist on one side and Carey Price's novice of a replacement, Dustin Tokarski, on the other. Rangers backup Cam Talbot, a self-described "student to the best in the world," has had a front-row seat to the show his teacher has put on this postseason, and believes the three consecutive season-saving victories over Pittsburgh and the two breakthrough games in Montreal's Bell Centre, a house of horrors no more, featured a Lundqvist who "rose to a level I don't even know if we've seen so far this year." The second-stringer described the first-stringer as an athlete with an unwavering focus, and as a competitor who is angered more by defeat than he is satisfied by a shutout.
"You can tell in his eyes," Talbot said, "that every time he lets in a goal he's pissed off. He hates it when one gets by him." Not that many do. The 205th player drafted in 2000 -- the same year Tom Brady was pick No. 199 in New England -- owns more career shutouts for the Rangers than Eddie Giacomin, and more career victories for the Rangers than Mike Richter, playing a lot louder than he talks. Though his Garden locker is adjacent to Lundqvist's, Talbot said that he rarely speaks with his teammate before taking the ice (the goalie puts on his game face before he puts on his mask), and that Lundqvist is vocal only when ordering his well-meaning defensemen to quit trying to block the puck and get the hell out of his way. This approach has left the Rangers' best player with a .964 save percentage over his past five games. "I don't think that he's a lucky goalie," Talbot said. A lucky guy? Yes, 32-year-old Henrik Lundqvist, rich and famous, is all of that. He's a guitar-jammin' owner of a Tribeca restaurant, Tiny's and the Bar Upstairs, and a walking GQ cover hailed for his looks and sex appeal by People magazine. The world's most impenetrable goalie is one 30-second Dos Equis ad away from becoming the world's most interesting man. He's also one parade away from purging the metropolitan area's memory of that painful conference-finals loss to Brodeur's Devils in 2012, and from notarizing the obvious: Nobody in or around the big city can touch him, especially now that Masahiro Tanaka has remembered how to lose a baseball game. Henrik Lundqvist is the undisputed king of New York, even if a half dozen victories still separate him from his crown.
Henrik Lundqvist made 40 saves in the contest to improve to 10-6 this year in the playoffs, and 6-3 on the road. Lundqvist’s 40 saves were the most he has made in a playoff game in that did not go to overtime in his career. The Rangers goaltender has won a playoff career-high, five consecutive playoff games, posting a 1.20 GAA and a .964 SV% over the span. Lundqvist recorded his 40th career playoff victory in the contest, becoming the 19th goalie in NHL history to win 40 playoff games with one franchise. Lundqvist is also two wins shy of passing Mike Richter for first on the team’s all-time playoff wins list. Lundqvist leads the NHL in wins (10) and SV% (.934), and ranks second in GAA (1.93) in the playoffs.
Henrik Lundqvist made 20 saves to record his ninth win of the playoffs, and his 39th career win in postseason play. The Rangers goaltender improved to 9-6 in the playoffs this year, including a 5-3 mark on the road. Lundqvist has won each of his last four games, posting a 1.25 GAA and a .961 SV% over the span. The Rangers goaltender has allowed two goals or fewer in 12 out of 15 contests in the playoffs this year, including eight of the last nine games. Lundqvist is three wins shy of passing Mike Richter for first on the Rangers’ all-time playoff wins list. Lundqvist leads the NHL in wins (nine), is tied for second in GAA (1.99), and ranks second in SV% (.929) in the playoffs.
Henrik Lundqvist made 35 saves to record his eighth win of the playoffs. The Rangers goaltender has established a new NHL record with his fifth consecutive victory in a Game 7. Lundqvist is 5-1 with a 1.00 GAA, a .965 SV%, and one shutout in six career Game 7s, including a 5-0 record with a 0.80 GAA, a .973 SV%, and one shutout in his last five Game 7s. Lundqvist has also posted a 10-2 record, along with a 1.32 GAA, a .957 SV%, and two shutouts in his last 12 games when the Rangers have faced elimination. The contest was Lundqvist’s 80th consecutive playoff start. Lundqvist is the third goalie in NHL history to make 80 consecutive playoff starts with one team (Martin Brodeur – 194 with New Jersey; Patrick Roy – 133 with Colorado). As of the conclusion of the Rangers’ contest tonight, Lundqvist ranks first in the NHL in wins (eight), second in GAA (1.99), and second in SV% (.931) in the playoffs.
Henrik Lundqvist made 36 saves in the contest, a playoff-high for him this year, to record his seventh win of the playoffs. The Rangers goaltender has posted a 9-2 record with a 1.35 GAA, a .955 SV%, and 2 SO in his last 11 games when the Rangers have faced elimination, and a 7-0 record, with a 0.98 GAA, a .967 SV%, and 2 SO in his last seven games when the Blueshirts have faced elimination at home. Lundqvist has posted a 4-1 record, along with a 1.39 GAA and a .959 SV% when making 30 or more saves in a playoff game this year. Lundqvist appeared in his 80th career playoff game, becoming the 23rd goalie in NHL history to appear in 80 playoff games, and the 18th goalie to do so with one team. The Rangers goaltender also started his 79th consecutive playoff game with one team, tying Marc-Andre Fleury for the third longest streak in NHL history. At the conclusion of tonight’s game, Lundqvist is tied for first in the NHL in wins (seven), ranks third in GAA (2.07) and second in SV% (.926) in the playoffs this year.
Henrik Lundqvist made 31 saves to record his sixth win of the playoffs. The Rangers goaltender has posted an 8-2 record, along with a 1.38 GAA, a .953 SV%, and two shutouts in his last 10 games when facing elimination. Lundqvist has also posted a 3-2 record, with a 1.60 GAA, a .948 SV%, and one shutout in his last five games when facing elimination on the road. As of the conclusion of tonight’s game, Lundqvist is tied for second in the NHL in wins (six), ranks fourth in GAA (2.16), and third in SV% (.921) in the playoffs.