McDonald: Henrik Lundqvist Getting Older Is The New Normal For The Rangers

We are seeing it with the Giants, as their 0-5 start is exposing Eli Manning for what he has become.

A normal capable NFL quarterback, who needs help for his team to win.

Unfortunately, the supporting case – read: offensive line and now the wide receivers – are just not there.

And so far, four games into this young NHL season, we are seeing it with the New York Rangers. Henrik Lundqvist is just not the same play he was five years ago. He’s good, but not great and the Rangers don’t have the defense to help him elevate his game.

Such is life for teams with older superstars. For the Rangers, they have their guy in the most important position. Lundqvist is certainly a future Hall of Famer, but at 35, the years of use have worn down on this franchise goaltender.

We saw this last night in the Rangers 3-1 loss to the St. Louis Blues. An easy soft goal early in the game was enough for St. Louis, which put the Rangers on their heels before the crowd was able to sit down for the National Anthem.

“It just means that it’s a game where you have to be strong mentally,” Lundqvist said.  “I think I played a pretty solid game, made a lot of good saves, but it’s not the start you’re looking for.  We talked about it in the room here, how important it is that first shift to set the tone.  It’s tougher for everyone when you put yourself behind a goal like that.”

He did play a good game and the Rangers had their chances to win, but you need to start wondering about the club.

The Ranger defense is very different this season. Dan Girardi is gone and Marc Staal is a shell of himself. Both were shutdown defensemen, who helped Lundqvist out. Now, they are more concerned with creating offensive changes with Kevin Shattenkirk leading the way.

If that’s the case, then Lundqvist will be on his own for more times than he has in the past and he will be expected to make the saves on his own, even when the defense leaves him naked out there.

It’s hard to watch players on the decline. Manning has been that way for a few years. David Wright can’t even get onto the field for the Mets. And Lundqvist is slowly starting to show the cracks. There will be flashes of brilliance at times, but those will be fleeting over the next few years.

The good news, as my colleague Leslie Treff pointed out, the Rangers have the next generation in the net coming in the few seasons, and ad Lundqvist gets older and finishes out his contract, he will have help.

But that means the Rangers still need to worry about this season. Unless there’s a defensive change in heart on the blue line, No. 30 will be expected to do a lot of the stops himself, which means there will be more soft goals in the future.

It’s just a fact of life. Now, don’t expect the same epic collapse, like there has been with the Giants, but just expect the Rangers not being the same club we have seen for 10 years.

It’s going to be different. It’s just a fact of life.

About the Author

Joe McDonald

Joe McDonald is the founder and former publisher of NY Sports Day. After selling to i15Media in 2020, he serves as the Editor-in-Chief and responsible for the editorial side of the publication. In the past, Joe was the managing editor of NY Sportscene magazine and assistant editor of Mets Inside Pitch. He has covered the Mets since 2004.

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