An All-Star Snub
It’s no secret that New York Rangers’ goaltender Henrik Lundqvist is an intense competitor. He’s consistently been one of the NHL’s top goalies since his rookie season in 2006. Since then he has been nominated for the Vezina Trophy (awarded to the league’s top goaltender) five times, winning it in 2012.
He has also played in the past three NHL All-Star Games (2009, 2011, and 2012)–but he won’t be there this time. Six other goalies will be sharing the All-Star spotlight in Columbus this Sunday, but Lundqvist won’t be one of them. While “The King’s” All-Star snub has left many fans scratching their heads, Lundqvist himself looks at it as being given the gift of time.
“It’s been a while,” Lundqvist said. “I think my second year, I had a break. I didn’t make the All-Star team. But all the other years, it’s been Olympics or All-Star Games. We’re going to take this as a good opportunity for me to rest physically and mentally and come back really excited to play.”– Anthony Rieber, Newsday
Once Lundqvist declared that he believed rest/break would be beneficial over All Star weekend, NHL turned elsewhere.
— Larry Brooks (@NYP_Brooksie) January 15, 2015
Of course, he would rather be on that stage–it’s an honor that few players ever get to experience. And Lundqvist’s competitive nature is legendary. But he’s also the consummate team player–and he knows full well what’s ahead for the Rangers. Having a full week of rest right now could wind up being the best thing for everyone.
The Road Ahead
Why is getting extra time off such a big deal? Most of the league is also getting the week off–it’s the same for everyone, right? Well, not really. The Blueshirts’ schedule is working against them–and days off will be few and far between once the season resumes on Tuesday, January 27 against the New York Islanders.
Heading into the All-Star Game, no team has played fewer games (44) than the Rangers. The “second half” of the season will see them playing 38 games when other teams in their conference will only have to play 36 (Washington, Pittsburgh, Islanders), 35 (Boston, Detroit), or even 34 (Tampa Bay) in the same timeframe.
In the 37 days between January 27 and March 4, the Rangers will have 19 games–that’s an average of roughly a game every other day. Though that stretch only includes one set of back-to-back games (February 19 vs. Vancouver and February 20 in Buffalo), they only have consecutive days off twice (Feb 5-6 and 17-18).
The NHL season is a grueling 82-game marathon, and the games get harder as the season gets longer. A week of extra rest for their franchise goalie might pay dividends when the playoffs roll around.
Kevin has been covering the Florida Panthers and New York Rangers for The Hockey Writers since the 2013-14 season. Before that, he has written about, played, and coached hockey at all levels. He grew up a Rangers fan in the Southern Tier of New York State, but now lives in the Atlanta area with his wife and two sons. You can reach him on Twitter as @kmizTHW , or via email (firstname.lastname@example.org).