Originally written on The Rangers Tribune  |  Last updated 8/23/12
New_york_islanders_5eba

There’s no denying the importance of primary and secondary scoring, shutdown defense, and great special teams play. But more than anything, hockey games are won and lost based on the ability to stop the puck. Every coach and player will tell you that a team goes only as far as its goalie takes them, and if you’re not convinced, how about this quick statistic for you: five of the last 11 Stanley Cup Final MVP’s have been netminders. A list of these names features some of the sport’s all time greats, including Martin Brodeur and Patrick Roy. And if the New York Rangers want to hoist Lord Stanley’s Cup in the near future, Henrik Lundqvist will need to lead the charge and join that sacred list.

“King” Henrik was nothing short of spectacular this past season, posting a 1.97 GAA and a .930 save percentage. These numbers landed him a Vezina Trophy, but more importantly a spot in the Eastern Conference Finals. New York has come to expect brilliance from Lundqvist over the years due to his consistent play, and the organization was frankly lost until the emergence of this Swedish superstar. He stepped between the pipes in 2005-2006, and has only missed the playoffs once.  

The numbers speak for themselves, really:

But the team around him in his short career has never been as poised to win a Cup as they are now, heading into the 2012-2013 season, and if the Rangers are to be successful yet again, the X, Y, and Z factors will all be Henrik Lundqvist. They say that John Tortorella is the brains behind the Blueshirts, so if that is true, then Lundqvist is undoubtedly the heart.

Though during the season the Rangers had strong and timely scoring, one cannot say the same of their playoff run. Henrik Lundqvist was the reason the Rangers made it as far as they did, stealing games in both the Ottawa and Washington series. Likewise, it came as no surprise that when Hank let his guard down every so slightly in games four through six against the Devils, the magical season came to an abrupt end. But hopefully the addition of Rick Nash and the continued emergence of the youth in the franchise will fix that by filling in the rare gaps in Hank’s game, and finally put a championship banner next to that of 1994 in the process.

While Henrik Lundqvist has the potential to lead Gotham City to victory, this window of opportunity is shrinking. At 30 years of age, there may be a three to four-year horizon if the team is to take full advantage of Henrik in his prime. YES, I know, Brodeur has played into his 40’s, but Henrik’s harsh butterfly style will shorten his career because of the pressure he constantly exerts on his knees. Plain and simple, the New York Rangers must win now while Hank is in his prime. 

The Blueshirts could loose any player on their roster and quite honestly remain Stanley Cup “contenders”; that is, any player except Henrik Lundqvist. He has been and will continue be the backbone of the franchise, and he will prove that once again in 2012-2013. Although his career has been relatively brief, his regular season numbers compare favorably to those of Martin Broduer. Broduer over his long career has posted a 2.23 GAA with a .913 SV%, while Henrik has compiled similar stats with a 2.27 GAA with a .912 SV%. But real comparisons will be held in abeyance until he brings home the hardware.

His numbers have led two or three different Ranger lineups to the playoffs where the post-season was probably not merited from  a “team” effort standpoint. Rick Nash, Brad Richards, or even Ryan McDonagh may be the next Conn Smythe Trophy winner, but they will not be playing for a Stanley Cup next year if Henrik Lundqvist does not have another brilliant season.   

** Follow Alex Klein on Twitter: @kleinale1992 **

GET THE YARDBARKER APP:
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

Randy Moss beats Antonio Brown in sprints during workout

LeBron James believes his ‘legacy will speak for itself’

WATCH: Crash at Tour de France sidelines riders

Buehrle drank beer during World Series game he pitched

Redick gives Clippers ‘F-minus’ grade for losing Jordan

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Report: PGA pulls Grand Slam event from Trump course

Three things to watch for on Hard Knocks with the Texans

Pierre-Paul could face charges for possession of fireworks

Report: Warriors trade David Lee to Celtics for Gerald Wallace

Rivers believes Gates' PED use was unintentional

Favre felt 'bothered' by Green Bay's decision to trade him

Sonnen: McGregor is 27 pounds over his weight limit

WATCH: Connor McDavid turns heads in Oilers scrimmage

Member of Pirates grounds crew swallowed by tarp

Video allegedly shows BYU RB recruit being shot

Vin Scully teaching the history of the American flag is a national treasure

Top MLS players at the 2015 CONCACAF Gold Cup

How the Pacers' new identity will look

Matt Bonner blames iPhone 6 for elbow injury, shooting woes

Evaluating Tarasenko’s eight-year, $60M contract

Tigers should accept reality and become trade deadline sellers

Five running backs who could break the Heisman Trophy streak

Roy Halladay snaps selfie while getting a speeding ticket

NHL News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.
the YARDBARKER app
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

Top MLS players at the 2015 CONCACAF Gold Cup

Five RBs who could break the Heisman Trophy streak

Watch to watch on Hard Knocks with the Texans

Tigers should become trade deadline sellers

JPP could face criminal charges?

'Corrected' 2015 MLB All-Star Game picks

MLB's 2015 All-Star snubs

Gronk, David Ortiz in latest Dunkin Donuts iced coffee video

The 2015 All-Star reserves & pitchers

Are LeBron, Cavs just playing teenage games?

Bucks threatens move to Vegas, Seattle

Bryce Harper to skip Home Run Derby

Today's Best Stuff
For Bloggers

Join the Yardbarker Network for more promotion, traffic, and money.

Company Info
Help
What is Yardbarker?

Yardbarker is the largest network of sports blogs and pro athlete blogs on the web. This site is the hub of the Yardbarker Network, where our editors and algorithms curate the best sports content from our network and beyond.