Henrik Lundqvist gets the start tonight for the New York Rangers and I’ll be keeping an eye on how often the Buffalo Sabres shoot glove-side.
In Lundqvist’s last start, a 3-2 loss to the Vancouver Canucks, all three goals beat Lundqvist high-glove. Now, I know what you’re thinking, so what, it’s one game. So, let’s build this out. In the four games Lundqvist has played this season, he has allowed more goals high-glove than anywhere else, which is not entirely unusual for a goalie. On average, a goalie will allow roughly 35 percent of the goals against him in this area of the net. Half of the goals Lundqvist has allowed so far this season have beat him high-glove.
Still, we’re talking about four games so it’s little more than a footnote at this point. Unless, there’s something from a technical standpoint that makes Lundqvist susceptible to shots high on the glove-side. According for former NHL goalie and current TSN analyst, Jamie McLennan, there is and it’s nothing new.
“I’ve noticed over the years, he likes to set up the glove,” McLennan said. “Which means he opens, pivots the left shoulder and opens the door to make a big glove save. He will turn his left leg over and go toe up and then rip it out of the air but sometimes he gets beat there. The Mark Scheifele goal and the Brock Boeser goal, watch his left leg turn up and him open the door for the top of the net there. If he doesn’t get it cleanly, it ends up going in. It’s been a trend for a long time.”
McLennan added, “If it works, it looks great because he’ll make a big save. If it doesn’t, or if it’s deflected in front, the left leg, because it opens up it opens the 5-hole, he’s unable to react after that because the toe is up and the bottom of the skate edge down, it’s tough to move on any type of rebound or shot direction change.”
I always enjoy the small details of the game and McLennan offers some terrific insight here on the pros and cons of how Lundqvist plays in the net. So, keep an eye on how often teams target the glove and how Lundqvist performs on these shots going forward. Time will tell if this becomes a problem area for him this season or if still has the reflexes, at 37-years old, to make the flashy glove saves we’ve seen him make so often throughout his career.
(Photo by Jonathan Kozub/NHLI via Getty Images)