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Henrik Lundqvist: Cannon Fodder for the Jackets

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Continuing our deep dive into Henrik Lundqvist’s career against the Metropolitan Division with a look at how he’s done against the Jackets

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Columbus Blue Jackets v New York Rangers Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

We have taken a look at new Washington Capitals goalie Henrik Lundqvist’s career against the Metropolitan Division overall and started an examination of his history against individual Metro teams with a look at his career to date against the Carolina Hurricanes. Now, still with the hope that there will be some semblance of normalcy and divisional play for the upcoming season (acknowledging that changes might be coming), we turn to Lundqvist’s history against the Columbus Blue Jackets over his 15-year career.

Overall

We saw that Henrik Lundqvist has compiled an impressive record against the Carolina Hurricanes. The Columbus Blue Jackets are at the other end of the spectrum in terms of Lundqvist’s success among teams in the Metropolitan Division. The Jackets being a relatively new entry in the Metro, having been realigned into the division from the Central Division in the 2013-2014 season, Lundqvist has a comparatively sparse resume against Columbus. Despite having played in 15 seasons, Lundqvist has only 22 career regular season appearances against the Blue Jackets, not having faced them more than once in a single season (and not at all in 2013-2014) until they joined the Metro. His overall record against them is 11-8-2, 2.92, .907.

Lundqvist has a somewhat unique relationship with the Blue Jackets, or more precisely, their head coach. He played for John Tortorella from February 2009 through the 2012-2013 season, posting an overall record of 146-94-24, 2.18, .925, with 26 shutouts. He posted his career high in wins under Tortorella (39 in 2011-2012), his best goals against average (1.97 in 2011-2012), and his best save percentage (.930, also in 2011-2012). When his eight shutouts were added in that 2011-2012 season, it was enough for Lundqvist to earn his first and only Vezina Trophy as the league’s top goalie, compiling almost twice as many points (120) as runner-up Jonathan Quick (63).

After he was relieved by the Rangers in May 2013 and an intervening stop in Vancouver as coach of the Canucks, Tortorella was named head coach of the Blue Jackets in October 2015, and Lundqvist found himself on the other bench in his relationship with Tortorella. Since Tortorella took over in Columbus, Lundqvist is 3-5-1, 3.45, .893 in ten appearances against the Blue Jackets. He joins the Caps having lost his last three decisions to Columbus (0-2-1) dating back to November 2017.

Lundqvist’s overall record against the Blue Jackets is another example of one that breaks cleanly into two parts. From February 2007 through April 2016, he faced Columbus 13 times and compiled an impressive 9-3-1 record with a 2.44 goals against average and a .920 save percentage. Only once in that span did he allow more than three goals, that coming in a 7-4 win at home to the Blue Jackets in November 2009, when he allowed four goals on 30 shots.

His results since then have been quite different. Starting in November 2016 through December 2018 (he has not faced them since), he faced Columbus nine times, posting a 2-5-1 (one no-decision), 3.63, .889 record. Four times in those nine appearances he allowed four or more goals, and he allowed three on 16 shots in just 23:38 of ice time in a 6-4 loss to Columbus in January 2017.

Workload and Venue

Similar to his experience over his career against the Carolina Hurricanes, high shot volumes have not been an intimidating factor to Lundqvist’s performance against Columbus. Eight times in 22 appearances he faced 29 or more shots, and in those instances, he is 5-2-1, 2.36, .937. Conversely, though, he is just 6-6-1, 3.28, .881 when facing fewer than 29 shots, including two games in which he was lifted early.

Lundqvist’s home and road splits against the Blue Jackets have an odd quality about them. His win-loss records are almost indistinguishable – 5-4-2 at Madison Square Garden, 6-4-0 in Ohio. The home-road difference was stark when looking down through the numbers, and in an odd way at that. On home ice, Lundqvist had a surprisingly weak goals against average (3.65) and save percentage (.881), and only twice in the 12 games he faced Columbus on home ice did he allow fewer than three goals. On the other hand, he was strong in both goals against average on the road (2.13) and save percentage (.934). Only three times in ten games in Ohio has Lundqvist allowed more than two goals. The odd part of that fact is that twice he allowed three goals on only 23 shots faced, the lowest shot volumes he faced in Columbus in his career.

Efficiency

Columbus has not done wonders for Henrik Lundqvist’s numbers. Sixty goalies have appeared in ten or more games against the Blue Jackets over their careers, and while Lundqvist ranks poorly in that group in goals against average (2.92/53rd), he is ranked only slightly higher in his career save percentage (.907/49th). Only Petr Mrazek and James Reimer, among active goalies facing Columbus at least ten times, have a worse save percentage against Columbus (.891 and .888, respectively).

Unsurprisingly, Lundqvist has struggled at even strength against the Blue Jackets. His .910 save percentage at evens ranks 49th in that cohort of 60 goalies playing at least ten games against Columbus. In almost a third of the games he has played against the Jackets (seven of 22) he had a save percentage under .900. He has been under .900 in even strength save percentage against Columbus in five of his last seven games against the Blue Jackets.

Lundqvist’s save percentages in special teams situations are an improvement, but only sufficient to bring him to the middle of the pack of goalie appearing in at least ten games against Columbus. His .894 save percentage when his team is shorthanded ranks 31st of 60 goalies in this group, and he has done so while facing a rather light shot load (66 shots in 22 games), while his .875 save percentage when his team is on a power play ranks 44th in that group (24 shots faced in 22 games, tied for seventh-most shots faced in this group).

In the end

Columbus is not a team on which Henrik Lundqvist has built a Hall of Fame resume. He does not have a lot of exposure to the Blue Jackets – 22 regular season games, none in the postseason – and his results have not been especially consistent or impressive. And, there has been a certain drop off in his late career performance against Columbus (the 2-5-1/3.63/.889 record in his last nine appearances). Add to this the fact that by the time Lundqvist faces the Blue Jackets, it could be more than two calendar years since his most recent appearance against them, and there is some uncertainty about his likely performance against this club.

Lundqvist’s expected partner in goal, Ilya Samsonov, won in his only appearance against Columbus last season, stopping 27 of 28 shots in a 2-1 win at Capital One Arena on December 27th. Samsonov could be expected to add to his resume in the coming season, but one also hopes Henrik Lundqvist can reverse his recent lackluster efforts against the Blue Jackets to enable the Caps to sustain their dominance of the Metropolitan Division.