Henrik Lundqvist is considered by many the best goalie in the world. He’s won Olympic medals, he’s won numerous awards and he shares the NHL record for most Game 7 wins among goaltenders with Patrick Roy and Martin Brodeur.
And yet, Lundqvist has never won a Stanley Cup.
In some ways, people view goalies as quarterbacks: You can be really good at your position, but for the most part, you have to win a championship to be considered among the all-time greats.
Is that fair?
“I think in terms of the true greats of all time, you have to have at least one under your belt,” NHL on NBC analyst Anson Carter said on CBS Sports Radio’s Tiki and Tierney. “However, I think when you look at Henrik’s body of work, I think he’s done enough to be outside that conversation only because he’s been great for so long and his teams in front of him haven’t been that good – and with hockey, it’s definitely the ultimate team sport where one guy is rarely going to make the difference.
“You saw the Montreal Canadiens,” Carter continued. “They’re an average team, but Carey Price, through his greatness, took them as far as they could go. So having a great goaltender like Henrik Lundqvist certainly helps. You need to have the team in front of you, but no one could knock his efforts. The way he’s played in big games, high-pressure games, the Rangers haven’t lost games because of Henrik Lundqvist.”
Lundqvist hopes for another high-wire act Friday at 8 p.m. ET, as the Rangers host Tampa Bay in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals. Game 7s are always a bit of a wild card. Some are blowouts, some are overtime thrillers.
“Well, that’s the beauty of hockey,” Carter said. “You watch other sports like basketball. I could pretty much tell you who was going to be in the Finals right when the playoffs started in basketball. In hockey, you have no idea. You have no clue. And that’s why I love the game. Obviously I’m a little bit biased. But the game tonight, you never know what to expect. I do think you’re going to see a tight checking game, especially early. The Rangers want to come out and feed off that Madison Square Garden energy. I was at that last Game 7 against Washington, and (the fan support is) unbelievable. The energy from the fans, that translates on to the ice. The players can certainly feel that and that (can really help the Rangers).”
That would be a welcome change in this series. New York has lost two of three at home to Tampa Bay, scoring just four goals in the process. In fact, the Rangers have been outscored 8-2 in their last two games at Madison Square Garden.
“Tampa Bay in this series have been the better team on the road than they have been at home,” Carter said. “So they’re pretty comfortable playing on the road. You got to credit their coach, Jon Cooper. He does a really good job preparing that young group. However, I just think the Rangers’ experience playing in these elimination games should take them over the hump.”