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Henrik Lundqvist: Against Philadelphia, Success Flying Into the Unfriendly Skies

Where we look at Henrik Lundqvist’s career record against the Orange and Black.

New York Rangers v Philadelphia Flyers Photo by Len Redkoles/NHLI via Getty Images

We are heading into the home stretch of our look at Henrik Lundqvist’s career against Metropolitan teams. After looking at his record against the two New York area teams in our last two entries – the New Jersey Devils and the New York Islanders – we move to Pennsylvania for the last two entries, starting with his history against the Philadelphia Flyers.

Overall

Henrik Lundqvist has a long and reasonably successful history against the Philadelphia Flyers. He has faced the orange and black 61 times in his 15-season career, posting an overall record of 35-19-5, 2.58, .914, with four shutouts. Those 35 wins against Philadelphia are the most he has against any current Metropolitan Division team except for the 38 wins he has against the New Jersey Devils.

In terms of his place in the overall rankings of goaltenders facing the Flyers, Lundqvist is, as you would expect, highly ranked in a number of statistical categories. His 61 games played against Philadelphia rank third all-time, behind only John Vanbiesbrouck (65) and Martin Brodeur (92). His 35 wins trail only Brodeur (50). His four shutouts of the Flyers ranks fourth, trailing Rogie Vachon (five), Jacques Plante (five), and Brodeur (12).

Where Lundqvist slips a bit in the rankings is in his underlying numbers. Of 70 goalies to have faced the Flyers at least 20 times over their respective careers, Lundqvist ranks 19th in goals against average (2.58) and 16th in save percentage (.914).

Lundqvist’s history against the Flyers breaks into three parts, two rather mediocre segments sandwiched around a lengthy stretch of good fortune. Over his first 17 games against Philadelphia, covering a period from January 2006 to March 2009, he was 8-5-2, 3.27, .884, with two shutouts.

A funny thing then happened. After he dropped a 4-2 decision to the Flyers, stopping 21 of 25 shots, in Philadelphia on March 14, 2009, he returned to the ice the following night to wrap up the home-and-home set, stopping 24 of 25 shots in a 4-1 win at Madison Square Garden. That game started him off on his most successful sustained run of success in his career against Philadelphia. In a span of 38 games from March 15, 2009 through January 16, 2018, Lundqvist went 27-9-2, 2.00, .934, with two shutouts against the Flyers. Three times in that span of games he posted winning streaks of at least four games with a high of eight straight wins from March 6, 2001 through April 3, 2012.

What Lundqvist has now, however, as he starts his career in Washington is a six-game personal losing streak against the Flyers (0-5-1) over which he has a 4.47 goals against average and a .871 save percentage. Four times in those six games he allowed five or more goals.

Workload and Venue

In his long history against the Flyers, Henrik Lundqvist has an interesting profile when it comes to his win-loss record in the context of shots faced. At very high and very low volumes, he has had infrequent success – 2-2-3 in seven games when facing 40 or more shots, 3-2-0 (two no-decisions) in seven games when facing fewer than 20 shots (in four of those games he logged 40 or fewer minutes). His underlying numbers at those two extremes were quite different, a 2.64 GAA and .937 save percentage when facing 40 or more shots, a 3.13 GAA and .854 save percentage when facing 20 or fewer shots.

There is that broader middle ground, though, in which Lundqvist had a less extreme, not to mention a more successful record in general. In the 47 games in which he faced 20-39 shots, he was 30-15-2, 2.52, .914. Twelve times in those 47 games he allowed four or more goals, but he also allowed one or fewer goals 11 times, including three shutouts.

Lundqvist’s home and road splits against the Flyers look as if he played two very different teams or occupied two entirely different time dimensions. In 33 games in the friendly confines of Madison Square Garden, Lundqvist posted a record of 19-9-3 (two no-decisions), 2.47, .910, with four shutouts. Sounds very good on the surface, but in the middle of those 33 games he had a ten-game winning streak on home ice over which he had a 1.20 goals against average and a .956 save percentage with two shutouts. In the other 23 games he was a less impressive 9-9-3, 3.08, .889 with two shutouts. It was a fine overall record that was not really built on consistency.

Playing in Philadelphia, Lundqvist was 16-10-2, 2.71, .918 without a shutout. Those 16 wins were built largely on streaks – three of at least four games that account for 13 of the 16 wins. And, perhaps a product of the declining fortunes of his team recently and his entering the latter phases of his career, he carries a three-game losing streak on the road against the Flyers over which he allowed 13 goals on 115 shots (.887 save percentage). He has not allowed fewer than two goals in a game in Philadelphia since he stopped 46 of 47 shots in a 2-1 shootout loss on April 11, 2010.

Efficiency

Henrik Lundqvist is among the better, but not elite goaltenders in career save percentage against the Flyers. His .914 overall save percentage ranks 16th among 70 goalies appearing in at least 20 games against Philadelphia. Similar to his experience against other teams and comparisons with other goaltenders, he compiled that save percentage playing in far more games against the Flyers (61) than any of the goalies ahead of him (Gary Smith, with a .916 goals against average, is next, having dressed for 35 games against the Flyers).

Where Lundqvist has done better is in his even strength save percentage against Philadelphia. Again, this is a statistic that the NHL has compiled only since 1997-1998, but among the 14 goalies over that time to have appeared at least 20 times against Philadelphia, Lundqvist’s .928 even strength save percentage ranks fourth, trailing Kevin Weekes (.933 in 23 games), Tim Thomas (.935 in 21 games), and Tuukka Rask (.955 in 22 games). It is worth noting that 27 times in 61 games against the Flyers, Lundqvist posted a save percentage over .950 at even strength.

Lundqvist’s save percentage when his Rangers were shorthanded ranks in the middle of that smaller subgroup of 14 goalies, his .849 save percentage ranking eighth. He allowed at least one power play goal to the Flyers in 38 of the 61 games he played against them, and only twice in eight games in which he faced at least nine power play shots did he turn all he faced aside. Perhaps a bit more strange, in the nine games in which he faced two or fewer shots, he stopped all of them only four times, his 10-for-16 aggregate performance in those games resulting in a .625 save percentage.

On the other side of special teams, the fact that jumps out is that Lundqvist allowed only three shorthanded goals in 61 games against Philadelphia. Only Martin Brodeur’s three goals in 92 games appears more impressive among goalies whose shorthanded performance against the Flyers has been recorded.

In the end

Henrik Lundqvist has built a solid record of success against the Philadelphia Flyers over a long career in which the opponent was a frequent rival. It would be difficult under those circumstances, especially since the Flyers have been a successful team in their own right for most of the 2005-present period over which Lundqvist faced them, to build an elite record. For instance, he and Braden Holtby are the only goalies among the top 25 in career save percentage against the Flyers (among those facing them at least 20 times) who played their entire careers in the same division as the Flyers (Holtby is 25th at .910). His recent history against Philadelphia has been diminished from his earlier career success, but perhaps the change in surroundings will return him to a level of success with which he is more familiar.