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Doctor's in! Lundqvist dissects his game

Tuesday, 11.24.2009 / 3:30 PM / NHL Insider

By Dan Rosen - NHL.com Senior Writer

GREENBURGH, N.Y. -- With Henrik Lundqvist, you have to appreciate the honesty.

All the New York Rangers goalie does to self-evaluate his play during the past 12 starts is recall the extra goal or two or three that he's allowed -- the goals that frustrate elite goalies -- and the analysis becomes easy because the losses have mounted.

"Like the other night (against Florida) I felt I played really well, but I let in that fluky goal in the second and that was the difference in the end," Lundqvist told NHL.com, discussing Jordan Leopold's goal off a soft shot that wound up being the winner in a 3-2 Rangers' loss. "I need to know that my game is right there and I played pretty well. It's just that they got a fluky goal and that was the difference."

The frustrating part for Lundqvist is the difference on most nights has been one goal and, until Monday, when the Rangers broke out for seven goals, he hasn't been getting much offensive support.

However, even in a game like Monday's against Columbus, Lundqvist let four pucks get behind him and gave up two quick ones that forced the Rangers into comeback mode early.

The goals were not all his fault. On a few of them he had no chance and on others there were defensive breakdowns either in front of him or behind him that made it harder for him to see the puck and stop it.

Nevertheless, he's an honest self-evaluator. So, Lundqvist flat-out knows that he needs to be that little bit better if the Rangers are going to turn the tide of a season that started out so promising with seven-straight wins after an opening-night loss.

Since starting out 6-1 with a 2.14 goals-against average and .931 save percentage during that eight-game run to start the season, Lundqvist has gone 4-7-1 with a 2.92 GAA and .902 save percentage.

Overall, he's a respectable 10-8-1 with a 2.64 GAA and .913 save percentage. He's No. 20 in the League in both save percentage and goals-against average, but he's never finished a season with a GAA higher than 2.43 or a save percentage lower than .912.

"I feel like I have been pretty consistent in my game, the way I play and I don't try to change too much," Lundqvist said. "It's just that little last percentage that needs to be a little bit better, to cut that extra goal down that will be a big difference in the end."

Rangers coach John Tortorella doesn't disagree.

The goalie is still the least of his concerns, but Lundqvist's own evaluation of his play stands as accurate in Tortorella's mind.

"That's one thing with Henrik, he is legit when it comes to the assessment," Tortorella said. "I'm not a big stat guy because, again, we're just trying to win hockey games; but that's a legit assessment."

Of course, it's not as if Lundqvist has been playing with much margin for error. Before Monday's seven-goal outburst, the Rangers had scored only 2.18 goals per game in his past 11 starts.

The seven losses were by a combined 14 goals, but four of those 14 goals came when Lundqvist had already been pulled for an extra skater.

"I don't mind low-scoring games. I like that. I like knowing that every mistake can cost you the game. As long as you're winning, I don't care if it's 2-1."
-- Henrik Lundqvist

"I don't mind low-scoring games," Lundqvist said. "I like that. I like knowing that every mistake can cost you the game. As long as you're winning, I don't care if it's 2-1."

He does care about it, though, when he and the Rangers are on the wrong end of those scores.

That's when the extra goals allowed get magnified. If Lundqvist had the same numbers, but his record during his past dozen starts was reversed to be 7-4-1, there wouldn't be too much reason to look in the mirror, although the perfectionist in him would still fret.

"When you lose sometimes you start thinking too much about changing this or that, but it's more about sticking to what you're doing and hopefully it turns out well for you," Lundqvist said. "I don't think it has been bad, but it could be better."

The honesty is refreshing.

Contact Dan Rosen at drosen@nhl.com
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