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Henrik Lundqvist carries Rangers while big-money scorers struggle with injuries

Nov 1, 2010, 10:49 PM EDT

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Henrik Lundqvist

When Marian Gaborik and Chris Drury went down with injuries while word surfaced that Vaclav Prospal would miss time because of surgery, it was hard to argue against the prevailing wisdom that the New York Rangers were boned (to use a highfalutin scientific term). Especially since their true star – goalie Henrik Lundqvist – started a bit slow.

While the Rangers are flying under the radar a bit, the team is a beyond respectable 5-3 since their big ticket scorers went down with injuries. Their scrappy, competitive play might be a surprise to some, but the main reason they are keeping their heads above water shouldn’t. Lundqvist put together Vezina Trophy – perhaps Hart Trophy- caliber hockey in the six of the eight games he started since those guys went on the shelf.

A 4-2 record might not seem that amazing until you look at his impressive numbers.

(click to enlarge)

While you can see most of the details in that graphic, let me share some of the high points.

  • Allowing 12 goals in only six games is pretty impressive to begin with, but doing so when your team allows 34.7 shots per game makes it an outstanding number.
  • Lundqvist only had one game with a sub-90 save percentage, in a loss against the Carolina Hurricanes.
  • He hit 94 percent or better in four of those six games, including a shutout on the road against Toronto. In fact, his save percentage totals about 94.23 in this span.

With the Chicago Blackhawks winning a Cup with Antti Niemi and plenty of teams having recent success with previously unknown goalies, many people might question the need for a “marquee” or “franchise” netminder. Yet, if you look at the Rangers, they would be in enormous trouble without their stupendous Swedish stopper.

That’s because Lundqvist delivers when the Rangers need him the most.

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