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Lundqvist has trouble closing series when not facing elimination

May 29, 2014, 9:49 AM EDT

Henrik Lundqvist AP

The New York Rangers have already squandered one chance to finish off the Montreal Canadiens and advance to the Stanley Cup Final. They don’t want to see this series go to a Game 7, but in order for that to happen, goaltender Henrik Lundqvist needs to defy his status quo.

He was yanked midway through the second period on Tuesday after allowing four goals on 19 shots. The problem is, that’s not unusual for him under the circumstances. Whenever the Rangers have the opportunity to advance, but don’t face elimination, Lundqvist seems to struggle.

The last five times the Rangers have been put into that situation, Lundqvist has posted a 5.53 GAA and .808 save percentage, per the Bergen Record’s Tom Gulitti. He was pulled in four of those contests.

“He’ll be fine,” Rangers defenseman Marc Staal told NHL.com. “It’s the last concern of anyone on our team.”

The silver lining is that if Montreal does force a Game 7, then history suggests that Lundqvist will rise to the occasion. He’s 11-6 with a .944 save percentage in 17 career contests where the Rangers faced elimination. He’s also won his last five Game 7s.

The Rangers will take on Montreal at 8:00 p.m. ET tonight.

Related:

With Lundqvist, AV is nipping potential meltdowns in the bud

Health updates: Lundqvist felt slow, but isn’t injured

  1. jaybyrd99 - May 29, 2014 at 10:26 AM

    I think he plays a very strong game tonight . His Ranger legacy-vs Giacomin and Richter, will be defined by his reaching the finals . He’s still top 3 rangers goalie of my lifetime , but both Eddie and Richter went to a final with Richter obviously winning. I’m not saying it’s a fair judgment ,but that’s how I think he cements himself as #1.

  2. hockey412 - May 29, 2014 at 10:49 AM

    Those stats are unbelievable. Well, win or lose tonight, no denying Hank deserves a cup at some time in his career. It sucks when players of his caliber never win it.

    • joey4id - May 29, 2014 at 12:34 PM

      True. Who’s the greatest player to never have won the SC?

      • JoeAvg - May 29, 2014 at 2:09 PM

        Humm… Marcel Dionne, Trevor Linden, Charlie Simmer, Dino Ciccerelli? These all come to mind right off the bat.

      • joey4id - May 29, 2014 at 3:16 PM

        Marcel Dionne is I believe the best not to have won championship. All good picks. Gilbert Perreault, Daryl Sitler, Mike Gartner are others that come to mind.

      • canadiensfanno1 - May 29, 2014 at 2:59 PM

        Ovechkin

      • joey4id - May 29, 2014 at 3:17 PM

        I should have specified non active players, although he may one day make the list.

  3. lowenni - May 29, 2014 at 10:56 AM

    Unrelated, sorry, but want to direct PHT’s attention to this tweet about Selanne: https://twitter.com/IgorKleyner/status/472025161760538624
    Very interesting.

    • hockey412 - May 29, 2014 at 11:38 AM

      ‘Rotenberg’ sounds like a fictional Mad Magazine character.

  4. JoeAvg - May 29, 2014 at 10:56 AM

    Reading the headline I came into this post thinking “too much is made of this garbage”. But 5.53 and .808 is too much to ignore. Yowsa! I never would have believed that.

    • c1md6 - May 29, 2014 at 12:28 PM

      It depends on how you look at it, it could also be a product that his d gets too laxed with a lead. Also, what this article fails to mention is that Hank after giving up 4+ goals in a playoff game is 5-1, 1.17GAA and 0.963 SV%. So it can go either way.

  5. homerx - May 29, 2014 at 10:59 AM

    I’d be surprised if he throws up two stinkers in a row. Remember before the series he could not win at the Bell Center and look what happened.

    • 19to77 - May 29, 2014 at 11:24 AM

      Agreed. This is a guy who takes every goal VERY personally. He almost never posts two bad games in a row – let alone three. The “do or die” mentality clearly went a long way for the Habs in game five, but it can only carry you so far against teams that aren’t the choke-artist Sharks. Ringing off three in a row to clutch it back is wildly optimistic. Lundqvist’s incredible when he’s pissed off and feels he has something to prove, so he’ll be playing his best hockey tonight. It’s just up to the guys in front of him to do the same. The Habs have a mountain to climb to win this game.

      • joey4id - May 29, 2014 at 12:44 PM

        I’m not disagreeing would anything you wrote. However, if it’s accurate then I wouldn’t qualify Lundqvist as one of the greatest. The great ones don’t have to be in a do or die game to be at their best. The great ones feel they have to prove something every night, and try to play their best hockey. Obviously Lundqvist wasn’t at his best last game. Was it a mental let down? Sounds like you think so. Elite athletes find ways to overcome mental letdowns when the chips are down, and they are down every playoff game.

      • c1md6 - May 29, 2014 at 12:59 PM

        @joey4id
        Pretty sure he’s overcome letdowns. Check out this stat, Hank after giving up 4+ goals in a playoff game is 5-1, 1.17GAA and 0.963 SV%. Every great goaltender has an off game, just like every great forward has a scoring drought and even the best defenseman can be a minus, but it’s how they bounce back from it. Giving his numbers I’m pretty sure he’s got the resiliency of the greats.

      • 19to77 - May 29, 2014 at 2:30 PM

        Fair observation, joey, but it’s a team game too. The Rangers in general weren’t playing their best hockey in game five. Hank was off his game, but so was basically everyone. Call it overconfidence on their part or desperation by the Habs or more likely a mixture of both, but c1md6 has the numbers to prove what I was getting at – he takes bad games personally, and he rebounds from them like you wouldn’t believe. The Habs are going in against Lundqvist at his best, and on home ice. This is going to be one hell of a long shot for Montreal. Bet on him overcoming whatever mental letdown he may have had last game. That’s the way he is.

  6. billiam55 - May 29, 2014 at 1:57 PM

    cant get any worse than last game right!

  7. hattrk - May 29, 2014 at 3:42 PM

    And one of the greatest scores, Mike Gartner. (he is also on the All-Time Greatest Mustache list)

  8. justinpecora50 - May 29, 2014 at 6:41 PM

    If he needs any more motivation, he should refer to Rene Bourique’s comments after Game 5….“Everyone talks about…(Lundqvist’s) a great goalie. Has he been better than (Tokarski) this series? I don’t think so.”….

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