Hank is Hank. Even when he's "bad" he is still pretty darn good. Or at least he looks good. Ahem...ok. Anyway.
There are two primary difficulties in assessing Henrik Lundqvist's season. The first is that he is always so damned consistently excellent that when he isn't quite as excellent, it can seem much worse than it actually is. The second is that it all might have been white noise had he not lost a chunk of time where he was in a groove.
For many, Hank actually was seemingly the sole cause of the rough start. Availability heuristic at play. Your brain can more easily pick out the very few times Hank was really really bad, and then makes the mental shortcut to say "well that's it! Hank was bad and that's why we struggled early on! Hank is declining! The sky is falling!"
Reality shows it didn't actually go down like that. For purposes of this report card, I am only going to focus on the regular season and grade him accordingly.
From the start of the season through December 8, 2015, the day a stretch of 12 wins in 13 games began.
If you look at his AdSv%, which adjusts regular save% by danger zone of the shot faced, he had two really bad games in his first 3. This set the tone. But truly, after that, he had only 2 other games where he dipped below 90% adjSv%,
and 5 shutouts. In one of the 4 games where he gave up 4+ goals, he carried a 93.21% AdSv%, which simply means he got peppered and kept it from being 8 or 9 goals.
He was mostly Hank, keeping the New York Rangers in games they had no business being in. And often times, getting shelled while doing it. But a couple real stinkers threw off his stats, and perception.
A mediocre to bad defensive team being flat terrible for a span of time isn't as noticeable or easy to perceive as Hank being real bad just a couple times. That comes to mind faster then the same old, humdrum, mundane reality that is a relatively mediocre, if not weak, defensive group, because it is a rare occurrence. Availability heuristic.
But from that point until his neck injury on January 31st, he was simply fantastic:
Amongst goalies with 400+ minutes in that span, playing in more games than those above him, and facing a fairly heavy workload in those games, he was steady and dominant.
The Neck Injury
The fact that Hank missed a massive portion of the season should justifiably give him a pass on any dip in performance for the short time he had to come back and get in rhythm before the postseason. And it isn't like he played poorly when he got back. Amongst goalies with 500 or more minutes from March 28th on, he was kind of a beast again:
The start to the season, hitting his stride and then getting injured, and coming back strong, made for as uneven a season as Lundqvist has had in years. But uneven for Lundqvist is all-star for most anybody else, and inconsistencies are common for nearly every goalie not named Henrik Lundqvist. Let's take a look at how he did for the season, vs his peers, through the lens of adjGSAA/60. If you need in-depth info on this statistical measure, click here. Basically, it is a rate stat that determines how many more/fewer goals saved the goalie is making than if a league average goalie was in his place, receiving the same workload of low danger, medium danger, and high danger shots.
Basically, this is reflective of his season. The rough and tumble start, by his standards, dropped him down the list. But he was still a top 10 goalie, all things considered.
Better Than Advertised
I wanted to see what it would look like if we disregarded the early part of the season and just viewed the time from December 8th forward. Let's take a look:
That chart speaks for itself. (Also, wowzers Steve Mason)
Hank can't wash his hands of the team's rough start. Though it wasn't as bad as it seemed and was truly the product of a few really really bad performances, Hank, whether fairly or not, has a different standard for success. And it wouldn't be a stretch to say that his expectations of himself are near perfection. He gets a B+ for the season on the Hank scale. On the mere mortal scale, it's still an A.
It also is impossible to say how he would have faired had he not been injured. But based on the above chart, and the fact that he has a longer and more consistent track record of greatness than any goaltender in the modern NHL, I can make a reasonable assumption.
If Lundqvist had not been injured, the games missed would have likely increased the sample size of solid performance. This would effectively swallow up the relatively small sample of shaky performances early in the season. We would likely be left with a season that looks remarkably similar to nearly every season before it in his illustrious career: consistently excellent elite performance. Game in and game out under a comparatively heavy workload.
Father Time is undefeated World Champion. But based upon the above, I think we all need to quit our belly-aching about the imminent demise, or decline of Henrik Lundqvist. He's got some more elite years hiding in that glorious head of hair.
all raw and modern stats, except adjGSAA/60, courtesy of war-on-ice.com