Throughout Henrik Lundqvist's eight plus seasons in the NHL, he has been the epitome of a workhorse. Minus last year's lockout shortened season, the Vezina Trophy winning goaltender has played less than 65 games just once. That year? 2011-12.
Yes, it's no coincidence that the most successful playoff run during Lundqvist's career happened during the season he was given the most rest.
And while in the past, Lundqvist might have scoffed at the idea of him needing more time at the end of the bench, it seems like this season he has come to terms with it (via New York Post)...
“In the past, maybe I got more disappointed,” Lundqvist said. “But now I realize, it’s better for me, it’s better for the team. It’s part of the plan.”
It also helps to have a backup goaltender Alain Vigneault can trust, which obviously makes it so much easier to sit the King...
“(Cam Talbot's) a first-year player that is developing and getting better,” Vigneault said. “For me, I don’t just look at the performance, I look at practice and how well a guy prepares himself. And he has done everything I would expect a player to do that wants to become the best that he can be.”
Lundqvist says the plan this season is for him to play between 60-65 games, which comes out to him playing three out of every four games.
During this current stretch of nine games in 15 days, Vigneault would like to see Lundqvist play six of those games.
...throughout Lundqvist's career, the biggest knock on him has been his lack of playoff success. Which can, no doubt, be attributed to overuse during the regular season. We've witnessed him run out of gas numerous times in the postseason due to the strain of starting 70+ regular season games. It also didn't help that 80% (my guestimate) of those starts were tight, low scoring affairs which put even more stress on him physically and mentally. Especially when the Rangers were usually fighting for their playoff lives in the months of March and April.
...the success of the 2011-12 season must be the model for Lundqvist if the Blueshirts have any thoughts of making another deep playoff run this year.
...and the man who allows AV to implement this plan with confidence is Talbot. I'm not so sure if the Rangers decided to stay with Biron, Vigneault would have been as comfortable trusting him with a quarter of a season worth of games.
...also, with this being an Olympic year, in which Lundqvist and Team Sweden are again a favorite to contend for gold, it is even more imperative that Talbot be given the opportunity to relieve Lundqvist whenever possible.
Haha, with games like last night from The King this plan is not going to work. Yes, the Rangers need to score more. Yes, Hank gave up a bunch of soft goals. Anyone who watches hockey, or has played hockey knows that it's immensely harder to score goals from behind; Hank has to stop letting up early soft goals. But, what does he care? He's going to sign in the off-season with the highest bidder, which will not be the Rangers.
The cherry on this cake would be for Hank to get a 2 week flue on February 8th that would prevent him from playing. Damn Olympics!
You know what'll really be the key for success as the season goes on? Bringing up Stu Bickel and having him fight every second he's on the ice, putting the fear into any opposing player who comes close to a Ranger. When Bickel is on the ice, people will bow to him and lanes will be cleared, allowing us to get the greatest shots in the history of the game.
...What? Is that not what everyone seems to be saying about Stu Bickel lately?
This of course makes sense with the King going into his 30s. He's a guy who has thrived in the past when "overworked" and actually was not as sharp at times when " rested" ( this observation from looking back through his career) and his "running out if steam" in the playoffs really only happened when he was ridiculously overworked or sustained nagging injuries (which could be argued as a risk of sustaining a heavy workload), but mostly it was the team, and not the goalie who was responsible for the early exits. And the year they went to the ECF the team as a whole was tired and beat up from the grinding, low scoring 7 game battles of the 1st 2 rounds but Henrik remained effective. I think for him it's a sign of maturity to stay on top of his game with less work. This was not always the case with him in the past and this year with the Olympics it's essential - otherwise there'll be a huge let down when he returns to NHL duty. And also the risk of injuries lessens when he's not overused. Thank goodness we seem to have a consistent back up now.
Lets enjoy Talbot while we have him. Got to imagine teams will take note if he keeps this up,
And one can only remain "aw, shucks"y for so long before he wants his own gig. Maybe 2 seasons or 2 months from now, but it is inevitable- nice as it is to have a great backup, it's too bad he's not 21. (Yes, greedy)
@gravey94 Sometimes I wonder if most of the posters on this site are just a bunch of kids who are just becoming hockey fans. "Damn Olympics" is exactly my point. Don't you realize that Olympic hockey along with the World Cup for soccer is the pinnacle for hockey and world wide team sport competition? I can go on with a whole dissertation on why hockey is the best team sport and I'm sure you would agree, or you wouldn't be on this site. Hockey purists love Olympic competition, and I hope that someday you'll 'get it'.
@gravey94 I can't wait for the olympics. There was some epic hockey played 4 years ago. As a fan of hockey, I can't wait. They should just play talbot some more while he is hot to get hank more rest. Play him 55 games if they wanted him to play 65.
@JoshKaye Obviously, you do not know much about hockey, and I do not profess to be the resident expert here, but there are basic components in the NHL for a teams success. Hockey is a physical, contact sport, and to think a team can shy away from that is just plain ignorance. We do not have many internal players who are willing to fill that role. Bickel is one of them. Every team (except us) knows there has to be a balance of skill, grinders, and toughness to succeed. When we get that toughness, we will be a team to contend and contend with.
@JoshKaye Totally agree!! Bickel and some wholesale changes are absolutely needed for this team that is totally tanking. Bickel should replace MDZ because he's a MUCH better defender, as we've seen numerous times in the past. MDZ is way too mobile, Bickel is a great stay on the dot defender so there's no way anyone can score from that particular angle on his side. And while we're at it, we may as well trade for another enforcer or 2 so we can goon it up every game. That will totally help the scoring chances. Make it happen Glen!
@SmellyKisio Lets not get ahead of ourselves thou, he has played only a couple of games. We have been also playing great defense when he has been starting. He might not be so great later in the season. Hopefully that doesn't happen, but it's still way to early to talk about him deserving a starting job or wanting one somewhere else.
@MikeBlue @gravey94 Ahhhh, I wish I were a kid just becoming a hockey fan, those were good times. The FIFA World Cup is absolutely the pinnacle for soccer. A gold medal is absolutely NOT the pinnacle for hockey players. I would bet the vast majority worldwide would take a Stanley Cup in a nanosecond over a Gold Medal. I love hockey period and I'm not against Olympic hockey. I just think it's total BS to have professionals compete in amateur games. I hate seeing NBA players, soccer players, tennis players, and hockey players taking that chance away from kids who may never get the chance to be a professional in their sport, but could have the chance to represent their country. So I think I "get it" just fine, thank you very much.
@MikeBlue @gravey94 I remember when the olympics first started allowing nhl players, they re did the allstar game because they wanted to show north american talent vs world talent at the pro level. there is no interleague play or stanley cup champ vs khl vs sweedish elite league tournament of champions, this is the greatest opportunity we have to see that competition and its great to see the players play with a different sense of purpose, pride instead of money!
@MikeBlue @JoshKaye I know enough about hockey to realize that Stu Bickel is hardly an AHL forward/defensemen and that putting him on a line with Boyle-Moore or a defensive pair with either Del Zotto or Moore would be a dream match up for almost any team. Yes, Bickel is willing to fight, get bloodied, take on the enforcers of other teams, But at what cost are we willing to sacrifice an actual NHL player when we're still having trouble putting goals in the back of the net? We've played better as of late but we're 28th in the league in goals per game. 28th!
We may be third in the metropolitan division right now but we have less goals scored than teams like the Islanders, the Oilers, the Flames, the Panthers...fact is this may be the first time our roster is finally FULLY healthy and we're able to put out a solid lineup night in and night out...and we want to ruin that so that a goon can come in, play four minutes and fight once a game? If we really want to improve the team from a physical perspective, we need a player who can play decent offensively while balancing out a solid gritty game as well. Bickel has zero offensive ability, below average defensive ability but can pack a punch. Are we willing to take out a player who can actually score a goal or make a nice pass for a player who can punch someone?
@JoshKaye @MikeBlue Actually, yes. Every team uses one or two roster spots for an enforcer or two. Obviously, the more skilled enforcers are few and far between. Boston, S.J., St.L. are a few of successful teams w/ skilled tough players. Until we get someone better, Bickel, McIlrath, and Mashinter are all we have, and I would play them ahead of Pyatt, Pouliot, and DelZotto.