Photo courtesy of NHL.com
Henrik Lundqvist is not only an icon for the New York Rangers, but a legend in all of hockey. He brought unprecedented passion and competitiveness to the ice each day that was admired by fans and players throughout the entire sport.
Earlier this month, Lundqvist announced on social media that he will be missing the upcoming season due to a heart condition. He added on Tuesday that he is scheduled to have open heart surgery. It is doubtful that Lundqvist will be able to continue to play the sport given these circumstances.
Nonetheless, the legacy he left is something that ought to be remembered by this generation. His 459 wins and 61 playoff wins are the highest totals for any goaltender for any particular franchise since he entered the league in 2005. Lundqvist is also in the top three since 2000 in save percentage, goals against average, and goals saved above average.
But most of all, he was the binding force for New York sports. Hockey is not an entirely popular sport there, but Lundqvist was a household name.
There is simply an excitement around that name that New York sports fans cannot describe. As the King himself would say, “I’m from Sweden but I basically consider myself a New Yorker.”
He is not just a New Yorker but the definition of New York sports. With a legendary career likely over, we reflect on his five defining moments.
Defining Moments of Lundqvist’s Career
5. Lundqvist Robs David Krejci
This was a moment that goes under the radar in Lundqvist’s career. He has made countless incredible stops at high-leverage moments but this is probably the best of them all. On a cross-ice pass, Lundqvist dove across the net to prevent the sniper, David Krejci, from getting on the scoreboard.
4. 2012 Vezina Trophy Winner
Lundqvist finished in the final three of the voting for the best goaltender in hockey five times, including each of his first three seasons. In 2012, his dominant season propelled him to the Vezina Trophy.
He had a phenomenal 1.97 goals against average and .930 save percentage. Lundqvist won 39 games that season, leading the Rangers to the No. 1 playoff seed in the Eastern Conference.
3. Sweden Wins the Gold Medal
Lundqvist was never able to raise Lord Stanley’s Cup, but was the driving force behind Sweden’s gold medal run in 2006. The 24-year-old stopped 24 shots to secure a 3-2 victory over Finland in the finals. He made multiple crucial saves down the stretch.
Also in that tournament, Lundqvist had a stellar performance against team USA in which he allowed just one goal. He also had a .943 save percentage in 2014, en route to a silver medal.
2. 2014 Stanley Cup Finals: Game 4 Victory
The Rangers lost the 2014 Stanley Cup Finals to the Los Angeles Kings in five games, but Lundqvist did absolutely everything to keep every game close. In Game 4, he was rewarded with his only career Stanley Cup Finals win.
As a team, the Blueshirts were outshot 41-19 in that game. The net minder’s heroic efforts, as well as a little help from soft ice, put them over the top.
Lundqvist made 179 saves over the course of the five-game series.
1. 2014 Playoffs: Game 6 Shutout Win Over Montreal to Clinch a Stanley Cup Finals Berth
The Rangers were consistent contenders throughout a majority of the 2010’s but in 2014, Lundqvist pushed them farther than they had been in two decades. He was known for his Game 7 performances and secured two series-deciding victories earlier in that playoffs against the Philadelphia Flyers and Pittsburgh Penguins.
Against the Montreal Canadiens though, Lundqvist made sure to get it done before that point. He made 18 saves in route to a 1-0 nail-biting victory in Game 6. The Rangers moved on to the Stanley Cup playoffs for the first time since 1994.
Here is perhaps Lundqvist’s most notable save to keep the score tied in the second period:
King Henrik did unprecedented things in a New York Rangers uniform. We wish him the best on his recovery and hope that someday he will return to Madison Square Garden for a final sendoff.