Connect with us


Henrik Lundqvist Trying To Avoid Finishing Career in New York as the Patrick Ewing of the Rangers

Lundqvist made 42 saves in Game 6.

Jamie Sabau/Getty Images

Jamie Sabau/Getty Images


No team in the history of the Stanley Cup playoffs has ever come back from 3-1 deficits to win best-of-sevens in back-to-back seasons. But now, the Rangers get the chance to make that history and get to try to pull off the Houdini escape act they pulled last year against Pittsburgh in Round 2 again on Wednesday, when they will play Game 7 against the Caps at the Garden. They are in this situation thanks to their all-world goaltender, Henrik Lundqvist, whose spectacular 42-save performance prevented the Blueshirts from nearly blowing an early 4-1 third period lead.

After the game it was hard not to notice how drained Lundqvist was during his post-game press conference. “I’m exhausted,” Lundqvist said, sitting at his locker, doused in sweat.

“I was tired going into the third period already, so I tried to feel the energy. With five minutes left, I was not ready for the season to be over, so I was trying to find reasons to stay confident.”

However, another thing was quite noticeable during his chat with reporters – the few gray hairs growing on his beard. There are only a few greys sprinkled into his majestic beard, but it is yet another reminder that Lundqvist will be 34 when next season’s playoffs roll around and Wednesday night will mark his 104st playoff appearance – the most ever among goalies who have played their careers wearing just a single uniform (Sorry, Martin Brodeur).

Including the post-season, Lundqvist has a total of 703 games on his odometer and nothing last forever, just ask Brodeur. By the time Brodeur was 33 years young, he already had three Stanley Cups under his belt, the one huge item missing from Lundqvist’s résumé. At 33, Lundqvist is playing for his legacy and the question becomes will Lundqvist finish his career in New York as the Patrick Ewing of the Rangers, a great player who might never be truly recognized for his greatness because he never won it all?

Ewing was not as well-liked by fans during his playing days as Lundqvist is now, and only in retrospect has he been given the respect he deserves. But even now that most fans appreciate what he did, he remains forever a rung below Walt Frazier, Willis Reed and their teammates in the Knicks pantheon because of his lack of jewelry. The concept that a championship, or lack thereof, can define a player’s legacy is not necessarily fair, but sports aren’t supposed to be fair.

“No one really remembers who the finalists were. They remember who won the cup and who their goaltender was,” MSG analyst and former Rangers backup goalie Martin Biron said last spring. “In this market especially, there are a lot of very successful people who support this team. They value winning the championship way on top of anything else. That’s just the reality of it, and Henrik understands that and wants to win as badly as anyone else . . . I’d say it’s at the top of his bucket list.”

The Sweden-born Lundqvist has two Olympic medals, more wins than any other goaltender in Rangers history and a team-record 55 shutouts. He signed a seven-year contract extension last season that likely will mean he will end his career in New York, with his jersey hanging in the Madison Square Garden rafters soon after. But Lundqvist still remains a King without a crown and the Rangers remain a team without a Stanley Cup since 1994. Lundqvist should have several good seasons left in him, but it’s not farfetched to wonder whether this season and last might wind up being his best chances.

The Rangers still have a long way to go to before thinking about returning to the Stanley Cup Final after losing to the Kings in five games last season. Lundqvist has compiled 50 career playoff victories to date and he will need to come up with victory number 51 on Wednesday to keep his Stanley Cup dream alive. If not, he will continue to head down a legacy path eerily similar to Ewing’s.


Click to comment

You must be logged in to post a comment Login

Leave a Reply

More in Feature