Written By: Sal Vassallo
Going into the 2019 New York Rangers season, one thing I was not thinking about was that it would be Henrik Lundqvist’s last season with the Rangers.
The king of Madison Square Garden since 2005, Lundqvist wowed fans with some incredible saves whether it was with his pad, glove, stick, or just diving in front of a puck. Lundqvist was as tough as they come as he took as few days off as anyone I have ever watched. There are two huge New York athletes that I have to thank for loving sports, Mets captain and former 3rd baseman David Wright and Henrik Lundqvist. For years I went to Rangers games and I can still hear fan’s chants through the game. Chants of Henrik! Henrik! Henrik! Another incredible save by Lundqvist which he made look routine. Now I was not in denial or anything. I understand Lundqvist was approaching the later stages of his career at age 38. I honestly thought the plan with new rookie Igor Shesterkin taking over the Rangers starting goaltender job, was to have one of the all-time greats in Lundqvist mentor him as a backup and trade Alexander Georgiev. But alas, Lundqvist struggled in 2020. He went 10-12 with 3.16 goals against. Now don’t get me wrong, 3.16 goals against him is not horrible but Shesterkin and Georgiev both played very well this season and are both under twenty-five years old. While cutting Lundqvist made sense financially, there was no way Ranger fans could be ready for it.
On September 29th, 2020, the Rangers cut their longtime goaltender. For the first time in fifteen years, Lundqvist was not on the Rangers roster. For me as a longtime Rangers fan, I got an empty feeling as one of my sports heroes was no longer in NY. A few days later Lundqvist would sign with the Washington Capitals to be their backup. He later posted an Instagram post in Washington’s locker room with the caption, “New Surroundings”. That’s when it finally hit me that the king now resides in DC and not MSG. Boy am I glad I grabbed a Henrik Lundqvist poster before Modell’s shut down.
Just to take you into the stats, in fifteen years Lundqvist played in 887 games and posted a record of 459-310 with 2.43 goals against. Also, take it from someone who watched him every day, a lot of those losses were 2-1 or 1-0. The Rangers seemed to always have trouble putting an above-average offense around him despite having stars like Rick Nash and Marian Gaborik. As good as the king was during the regular season, he did what legends do, raised his game during the postseason. Despite a 61-67 postseason record, his goals against was a minuscule 2.30. At times, Lundqvist single-handedly saved the Rangers season with his dominant play and clutch saves. He is one of the best ever to not win a Stanley cup thus far in his career. It’s a shame the Rangers never capitalized on his dominance to win a Stanley Cup, but it shouldn’t take away from how great Lundqvist was.
To wrap things up, I just wanna wish Henrik Lundqvist the best of luck in DC. If the Rangers don’t win a Stanley Cup, I hope Washington wins one for king Henrik!! Thank you for all your hard work Lundqvist, your jersey and #30 will be hanging from the MSG rafters soon enough!!!
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