He laid there sprawled out across the ice at the Staples Center. A sea of black jerseys clustered around the fallen warrior as he collapsed from exhaustion. After stopping a barrage of pucks all night Henrik Lundqvist came mere inches from keeping the New York Rangers Stanley Cup hopes alive. The New York Rangers Rangers may have missed out on the opportunity to hoist the Stanley Cup, but one big question remains. What does the loss for Lundqvist’s legacy?
Sometimes it’s not great to be king. Days after the loss, it has been reported that the defeat is still eating at the Rangers net minder. Despite setting franchise records for shutouts and wins in 2014, the image of Lundqvist accepting his accolades won’t be the image Rangers fans think of. Instead, it will be the final goal in the Stanley Cup Final that cost the Rangers their first championship in twenty years.
What does this mean for Lundqvist? A championship would help to cement his legacy as an all-time great. However, there is no question that King Henrik is still one of the top three goaltenders in the NHL. Lundqvist played very well in the Stanley Cup Final and was the victim of poor defensive play and a Rangers offense that struggled the entire series to generate offensive chances let alone goals. If it wasn’t for Lundqvist’s performance in goal, the Rangers would have been nowhere close to a Stanley Cup appearance. When the Rangers faced elimination Lundqvist played his best this postseason. Lundqvist has proven that he has been one of the best in the game.
Despite his 43-48 postseason record, Lundqvist’s incredible performances in elimination games proves that he is a clutch goaltender. This postseason it has become clear that he can lead this team to the promise land by putting the team on his back. Now it’s the Rangers turn. They need to get Lundqvist some offensive playmakers to take some of the pressure off of him.
What’s next for Lundqvist? Can he be an all-time great without a ring? Yes, but it will be much more difficult and there will be much debate about how he couldn’t win a championship when net minders like Quick and Brodeur won multiple championships. A championship would be the icing on the cake and would put him in the conversation for one of the top goaltenders of all-time. The quest for the ring continues for the king.