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.