For Henrik Lundqvist, Friday’s 2-0 defeat to the Tampa Bay Lightning in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals was yet another wasted year of brilliance. Another wasted year of mastery in net without holding up Lord Stanley’s Cup.
I wrote two weeks ago that anything less than a championship should be viewed as a failure for the Rangers. There’s no way you can sell me on 2014-2015 being a successful season after what I saw firsthand at MSG.
With a trip to the Stanley Cup Finals on the line, the Rangers effort and execution was totally inexcusable with the exception of the goaltender.
Henrik Lundqvist did everything in his power to will the Rangers to the Stanley Cup Finals. In the second period with the game scoreless, he faced a barrage of Tampa scoring chances that were stonewalled time and time again. In fact, the only reason the game was scoreless heading to the third period was because of “The King.”
Lundqvist’s brilliance was not enough. Tampa Bay was too explosive, too powerful in the third period and deserved to advance to the Stanley Cup Finals.
I was lucky enough to be in the building for Game 7, and after the game I paid very close attention to Lundqvist’s body language. I could see his frustration, anger and despair on full display. He had the look of a guy wondering, “What in the world do I have to do to win this thing?”
I hate to say it, but the more you think about it, the more Lundqvist’s career parallel’s another NY icon who made the World’s Most Famous Arena home: Patrick Ewing.
Ewing for years was the face of the Knicks franchise. They overachieved because of his presence in the middle, but it was never good enough mainly because of the lack of supporting players around him.
Not good enough to overtake Jordan, not good enough to defeat Olajuwon in the '94 NBA Finals, and not good enough to deliver a championship.
Every year, you believed it would be Ewing’s year and sadly he was unable to get over the hump.
Patrick Ewing did everything you could ask a great player to do with the exception of delivering a championship. Currently, that same statement applies to Henrik Lundqvist.
You have to wonder how long that championship window will stay open for Lundqvist and the Rangers. Sports history tells us that it doesn’t last forever and will eventually come to a close.
It did for Dan Marino, one of the greatest quarterbacks of all time. He made the Super Bowl in his second season and lost to Joe Montana and the vastly superior 49ers.
I’m sure Marino walking off that field figured he’d be back and win multiple championships. It was not to be for a variety of reasons, but being an all-time great player does not guarantee the right to a championship.
Dan Marino and Patrick Ewing are two of my favorite players of all time. They are both all-time greats, but have the void of not having that championship on their resume. Let’s hope Henrik Lundqvist isn’t added to that list.
The King deserves better.