After looking at Henrik Lundqvist’s history against the New Jersey Devils in our most recent look at his career against division foes, we turn to the other Metro team from the New York City area that he’s faced, the New York Islanders, and his record against them over his 15-year career.
In 15 seasons manning the nets for the New York Rangers, Henrik Lundqvist faced the New York Islanders 61 times, posting a record of 30-21-7, 2.41, .915, with five shutouts. Only Martin Brodeur faced the Islanders more times (91). Lundqvist’s 30 career wins against New York rank second among all goalies to face the Isles (Brodeur: 52). Of 56 goalies to have faced the Islanders at least 20 times in their careers, Lundqvist’s 2.41 goals against average ranks ninth (third among active goalies, behind Tuukka Rask (1.88) and Sergei Bobrovsky (2.18)), and his .915 save percentage ranks 10th in that group of 56 goalies (sixth among active goalies). Only Jose Theodore (six) and Brodeur (10) have more career shutouts against the Islanders than Lundqvist (five). Good numbers, but not as impressive as he has posted against other divisional opponents (Carolina Hurricanes and the New Jersey Devils).
As has been the case against other opponents, Lundqvist’s career against the Islanders breaks into two clear segments. The difference here is in how stark and abrupt the break is. In his first 47 appearances against the Isles over his career, through the 2013-2014 season, Lundqvist was dominating, posting a 29-1205, 2.07, .925 record with five shutouts. Only six times in those 47 appearances did he allow more than three goals.
That run of dominance ended with the 2014-2015 season. In his first appearance against the Isles that season, Lundqvist allowed six goals, four of them in the third period, on 27 shots in a 6-3 loss at Madison Square Garden. Starting with that appearance and lasting through the 2018-2019 season (he did not face the Isles this past season), he is 1-9-2 (two no-decisions), 3.65, .882 in 14 games. In five of those 14 appearances he allowed more than three goals, only one fewer than he did over his first 47 appearances against the Islanders. Only five times in those 14 games did Lundqvist post a save percentage over .900.
Workload and Venue
Henrik Lundqvist’s history against the Islanders has a bit of an odd look to it in terms of shots faced. There is the break of his history into two parts – in this case at the 28-shot mark per game. In 33 contests in which he faced 28 or more shots, he posted a record of 18-11-4, 2.06, .938, with two shutouts, a fine mark.
In the instances in which he faced fewer than 28 shots, though, he had an inferior record of 12-10-3 (three no-decisions), 2.87, .877, with three shutouts. In those 26 contests in which he faced fewer than 28 shots, Lundqvist had a short night’s work (40 or fewer minutes) six times, almost one time in ten over the total population of appearances he has against the Isles. But even in those 22 instances in which he pitched a “complete game,” his record is unremarkable – 11-8-3, 2.39, .895 – that low goals against average being the product of the low shot volumes.
Lundqvist’s home and road splits against the Islanders have an odd quality to them as well. First, there are the records. At Madison Square Garden, he was 14-9-5 (.589 points percentage), a good if not great records. But it was also similar to his record on the road against the Isles: 16-12-2 (.567 points percentage). It is in the particulars in which the home and road differences emerge. At home he faced only 26.0 shots per 60 minutes, which mitigated his somewhat disappointing 2.55 goals against average and .902 save percentage. On the road, he faced 30.6 shots per 60 minutes which allowed him to record a better goals against average (2.28) and save percentage (.926), even though his win-loss record was not much different from that on home ice. His home ice record had an all-or-nothing quality to it. In 30 appearances against the Islanders on home ice, eight times he allowed one or no goals (three shutouts), while he allowed four or more goals six times.
If there is an arena whose ice Lundqvist might be happy never to skate upon again, it would be that of Barclays Arena in Brooklyn. Six times he took the ice in Brooklyn, and six times he lost, posting a record of 0-4-1 (one no-decision), 3.18, .897. As it is, Lundqvist has not won a game on the “road” against the Islanders since January 29, 2014, when he stopped 30 shots in a 2-1 Rangers win outdoors at Yankee Stadium. His last win on Long Island was back on April 13, 2013, when he pitched a 30-save gem in 63 minutes of a 1-0 overtime shutout at Nassau Coliseum. In 24 games played in Nassau Coliseum, Lundqvist is 15-8-1, 2.11, .931, with two shutouts.
There have been 424 goaltenders to face the Islanders at least once in their respective careers. Of that number, 56 dressed at least 20 times against the Isles. And of that number, only Martin Brodeur has more appearances (91) and wins (52) against the Islanders than Henrik Lundqvist (61 appearances, 30 wins).
As noted above, his .915 save percentage ranks 10th in that group of 56 goalies (sixth among active goalies). What makes that fact noteworthy is that Lundqvist has compiled it over so many games. Of the nine goalies with a better save percentage, only Marc-Andre Fleury is within 25 games of Lundqvist’s total (45, over which he has a .919 save percentage) and within 600 total shots faced against the Isles (1,293 compared to 1,656 for Lundqvist).
Lundqvist is generally slotted in the same area of rankings in save percentages by strength, although the comparisons are once more limited by the fact that the NHL statistics go back only to the 1997-1998 season. That limitation renders Lundqvist’s history a bit hazier and perhaps a bit less impressive. Of the 17 goalies with at least 20 games against the Isles and whose save percentages by strength are on record, Lundqvist ranks 12th in even strength save percentage (.923).
Lundqvist’s special teams save percentages against the Islanders are something of a mixed bag insofar as rankings are concerned. His .890 save percentage when facing Islander power plays ranking eighth of the 17 goalies with recorded statistics in this subgroup, but his .852 save percentage when his Rangers had power plays ranks last in this subgroup of 17.
But here is the skunk at this garden party. Since the 2014-2015 season, 108 goalies have dressed for at least one game against the Islanders. Lundqvist ranks 89th on that list in overall save percentage (.882), 72nd in even strength save percentage (.903), 83rd when facing Islander power plays (.755), and 62nd when his Rangers were on power plays (.846). The Rangers have been in decline over the course of those years, their 250-180-50 overall record being 12th-best in the league, but Lundqvist’s results have not been particularly good, either.
In the end
Playing in close proximity to a club, as far as sharing a division, for 15 years can provide opportunities to compile impressive numbers, but the fact is Lundqvist has done just that with respect to his career against the New York Islanders. To a point. His recent history against the Islanders has not been a collection of hits to put in the scrapbook. Some of that is his recent history on the road, but then again, he need not suffer travel to Brooklyn anymore, where his experience has lacked charm.