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Henrik Lundqvist: Battling the Storm

Where we follow up our look at Henrik Lundqvist’s career in the Metropolitan Division with his record against the Carolina Hurricanes

New York Rangers v Carolina Hurricanes Photo by Gregg Forwerck/NHLI via Getty Images

In our first look at Henrik Lundqvist against Metropolitan Division rivals, we took a high-sky, overall view of his history against the clubs currently populating the division, except for the New York Rangers, for whom he played for 15 years, and the Washington Capitals, for whom he will play in 2020-2021. His performance against the other six teams over his career – Carolina Hurricanes, Columbus Blue Jackets, New Jersey Devils, New York Islanders, Philadelphia Flyers, and Pittsburgh Penguins – has been a successful one. Now, we start to look at his performance against individual teams, starting with the Carolina Hurricanes.

Overall

Few goaltenders have dominated the Hurricanes the way Henrik Lundqvist has. There have been 132 goalies logging at least 500 career minutes against the Hurricanes (including their previous incarnation as the Hartford Whalers). Only four of those goalies have a better points-earned percentage than Lundqvist. His .728 points percentage (on a 33-12-1 record) is topped only by Mike Vernon (.738/15-5-1), Chris Osgood (.750/12-4-0), Keith Kinkaid (.800/8-2-0), and Grant Fuhr (.820/19-3-3). His 33 career wins over Carolina ranks third all-time, with only Patrick Roy (35) and Martin Brodeur (39) having more.

That career record against Carolina breaks cleanly into two pieces, although perhaps not the way one might expect. In his first 18 career appearances against the Hurricanes, covering a period from November 2005 through January 2011, Lundqvist went 9-8-1, 2.42, .912, with one shutout. Decent underlying numbers that look a bit better than his win-loss record. But since then, from February 2011 through this past season, Lundqvist is 24-4-0, 1.74, .947, with one shutout in 28 appearances.

Over his 46 career appearances against Carolina, Lundqvist never lost more than two consecutive appearances in regulation to Carolina, his having lost consecutive games to the Hurricanes only three times in his career. In only one instance among those three did the consecutive losses in regulation come in a single season, and those occurred in his first two career appearances against Carolina, in his rookie 2005-2006 season, in November 2005 and March 2006. It might be worth noting, as he embarks on his Capitals career, that Lundqvist has a personal four-game winning streak against Carolina, (dating back to February 2019), and he has ten wins in his last 11 decisions against the Hurricanes.

Workload and Venue

Shot loads did not appear to bother Lundqvist when facing the Hurricanes. In fact, he did better with heavier shot loads. Twenty-five shots appeared to be the demarcation line. In 33 games in which he faced more than 25 shots, Lundqvist was 27-6-0, 1.74, .949, with two shutouts; he has never lost to Carolina when facing more than 40 shots (6-0-0). In 13 games in which he faced fewer than 25 shots (he had not faced exactly 25 shots in a game against Carolina), he was 6-6-1, 2.67, .879.

Lundqvist has hardly been intimidated by the surroundings in Raleigh over his career. In 21 appearances on the road against Carolina, he is 14-7-0, 2.28, .928. That includes a 10-3-0, 2.26, .937 record in his last 13 appearances there, dating back to February 2011. Only four times in those 21 career appearances has he allowed more than three goals, only once in his last 13 games there.

It might not mean as much, given that his home base of operations will be Capital One Arena and not Madison Square Garden, but Lundqvist’s home record against Carolina is quite impressive. In 25 appearances on home ice against Carolina, Lundqvist posted a record of 19-5-1, 1.77, .942, with two shutouts. In ten of his last 16 games against Carolina at home, he allowed one or not goals and only twice allowed as many as three.

Efficiency

No goalie having faced Carolina more than a dozen times in his career has a better overall save percentage against the Hurricanes than Lundqvist (.934). Oddly enough, the goalie Lundqvist is replacing – Braden Holtby – is second on that list (.931). Only five of 46 goalies having faced Carolina at least 20 times have a larger percentage of his games with a save percentage over .900 (71.7 percent for Lundqvist). In 26 games in which Lundqvist faced 30 or more shots against Carolina, he had a save percentage over .900 24 times and a save percentage over .950 18 times.

Lundqvist’s proficiency at stopping pucks against Carolina extends downward through situations. Of the 42 goalies to have appeared in more than 12 games against Carolina since 1997-1998 (when the NHL started keeping statistics), Lundqvist ranks seventh in even strength percentage (.935; only two of the goalies ahead of him appeared in more than 20 games against the ‘Canes: Braden Holtby (.943 in 24 games) and Craig Anderson (.936 in 21 games)).

That efficiency in stopping puck against the Hurricanes extends to special teams. Of that same group of 42 goalies since 1997-1998 to have faced Carolina more than 12 times, Lundqvist’s save percentage when facing power plays (.934) ranks fifth, and it is best among goalies with at least 20 appearances against Carolina in that span. On the other side of special teams, when his Rangers had a power play, his save percentage of .926 also ranks fifth in the group of 42.

In the end

It is true that in his rookie season Ilya Samsonov had good success against Carolina, winning both of his starts and stopping 61 of 64 shots (.953 save percentage) with a shutout. But Henrik Lundqvist has dominated the Hurricanes for almost a decade, although it is true that he struggled against Carolina this past postseason (0-2, 3.52, .901 in his first two career postseason appearances against the Hurricanes). In a division that has gotten more competitive over the past few seasons, and that will likely continue to do so, his experience and success against Carolina might be an important ingredient in keeping the Caps on top in the Metro.