Henrik Lundqvist Sets Milestone In Win; Does it Matter?

While New Jersey Devils goaltender Martin Brodeur is closing in on the NHL's all-time wins record, another top-tier goalie in the New York/New Jersey market set a milestone of his own on Thursday night, as Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist made 19 saves in their 4-2 win in Nashville.

For Lundqvist, it was his 30th win of the season, which is kind of a big deal seeing as how he's reached that mark in each of his first four seasons in the league. By doing so, he becomes the first goalie in the history of the NHL to post four straight 30-win seasons to begin a career. Just another milestone on an already impressive resume for the 27-year-old Swedish netminder.

Putting aside the milestone for a second, it was a huge win for the Rangers seeing as how they entered play on the outside of the Eastern Conference playoff picture. Thanks to an impressive second period performance and a shorthanded goal from Fredrik Sjostrom, the Rangers were able to jump over the Carolina Hurricanes -- 3-2 losers in Dallas -- to claim the No. 7 spot for the time being.

Lundqvist faced only 11 shots over the final two periods, stopping them all after giving up a pair of goals in the opening frame, leading to head coach John Tortorellalaying down the law during the intermission.

From the AP:

"It is a great feeling to be part of history," Lundqvist said. "The first four years have been great. When I look back on my career I will definitely think about this accomplishment. Part of this is because of my teammates, as well." Lundqvist also was inspired by Tortorella's talk. "He let us know how we should play and how we should have played in the first period," he said. "It is pretty obvious to us that when we get more involved, play more physical and go after teams that we are a better team. ''

Lundqvist had been sick the past week with an unknown stomach ailment, which led to him missing Monday's 3-0 loss to Carolina -- New York's only loss in its past five games.

Meanwhile, Rangers blog Scotty Hockey briefly weighs in on Lundqvist's win milestone with this: *Yes, Hank won his 30th game to become the first goaltender to get 30 in his first four seasons but seriously, it doesn't matter. They used to have these things called "ties" back in the day that takes the luster off of this achievement.

This is certainly true, as the NHL's addition of the shootout has eliminated tie games, and thus, inflated win totals around the league. Let's go back in time and examine just how many of Lundqvist's wins can be classified as shootout wins, or, if you prefer, "Bettman wins:"

2005-06: 4
2006-07: 8
2007-08: 7
2008-09: 8

In the pre-lockout days, these would have been tie games. What would this have done to Lundqvist's win totals? Well ...

2005-06: 30 wins becomes 26 wins.
2006-07: 37 wins becomes 29 wins.
2007-08: 37 wins becomes 30 wins.
2008-09: 30 wins (so far) becomes 22 wins.

Certainly interesting if we're looking at the numbers in a vacuum. There's no way of knowing how many of those games would have actually resulted in a tie, seeing as how teams may have approached the overtime periods with a different strategy knowing they didn't have the shootout in their back pocket.

Of course, this isn't to take anything away from Lundqvist, one of the best goalies in the NHL and a three-time finalist for the Vezina trophy. It's just interesting to see how much the game, and the way we follow it, has changed in recent years.

Henrik Lundqvist Sets Milestone In Win; Does it Matter? originally appeared on NHL FanHouse on Fri, 13 Mar 2009 15:25:00 EST . Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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