For the New York Rangers, the time is now for Henrik Lunqvist and friends. The window is closing.
New York Rangers hockey resumes on Tuesday night for the 2017-2018 season. Hasn’t the year gone by quickly? It feels like we were just in the winter months and now the hockey season is ready to begin again. Last year, the Rangers finished with 102 points and qualified as the Wild Card for the Eastern Conference. They topped the Montreal Canadiens in six games and fell to the Ottawa Senators in the next round, also in six games.
Time for a new year and a clean slate in Gotham. Some new faces have arrived, Kevin Shattenkirk being one of the more notable ones. David Desharnais is another one, with time in Montreal and Edmonton before arriving in the Big Apple. Ondrej Pavelec , who looked good in the preseason, is the new backup goalie.
And there are some familiar ones back for more. Ryan McDonagh is back in his duties as the captain. Mats Zuccarello is also back in town and ready to wreak havoc on opponents. He’s a small man (5-8) but always scrappy. Don’t forget about Rick Nash and Michael Grabner either, two of our top scorers last season.
And then of course, we have the most familiar face of them all. To know him is to love him. It’s been his net for a long time now. He took over one year after Mike Richter left. Some call him the “King”. We can just call him Henrik Lundqvist. Everyone knows how great he is. All of the big saves. All of the wins, the 30 win seasons, huge playoff wins and everything else he has brought to the table. He will remain in the hearts of the Blueshirt faithful for a long time.
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The one thing he hasn’t done so far is win the Stanley Cup. If it’s going to happen it will need to be soon. That window is closing for the King and some members of his kingdom.
Take a look at Henrik’s stats from last year. Don’t get me wrong, he had his days of brilliance. He also had his days of not so much brilliance. His save percentage of .910 was the lowest in his fine career. His goals against, however, went UP to 2.74, the highest number of his career.
Lundqvist still won over 30 games for the 11th time in his career, but it would be hard to argue that he wasn’t a different guy for a good portion of the season.
He came up bigger in the playoffs when his goals against average went down to 2.25. Remember the 54 save performance in a losing effort against Ottawa? Henrik did flash as his old self. In the regular season he put up big games too. How about 44 saves in a February win over Anaheim? That was a terrific night. But those great nights are intertwined with not so good ones. I don’t think I can remember Henrik Lundqvist ever getting pulled as often as he did last year.
It’s going to happen. He’s 35 years old. His wonderful skills are going to diminish. The idea is to win the cup before he goes all the way off that cliff. The top of that cliff is approaching. That window of opportunity is closing.
It’s not just Lundqvist who is getting up there. Zuccarello just turned 30. Grabner turns 30 next month. Rick Nash is 33 years old. Even captain Ryan McDonagh is not “young”, coming in at 28 years old this season. My point is that the core of this group is not going to be there forever. Their window of opportunity is closing. If they are going to bring home a cup, the time is now. Let’s go Rangers!