New York Rangers’ superstar stopper Henrik Lundqvist took another step towards his first Vezina Trophy Tuesday night with an often-spectacular 42-save shutout of the Boston Bruins in a high-profile game between the top-two teams in the Eastern Conference.
Included in the highlight reel was a breakaway save that perfectly illustrated Lundqvist’s theory on using a high glove position.
The Rangers’ standout talked in the latest issue of InGoal Magazine about the adjustments he has been forced to make since transforming himself from an outside-in, retreating goaltender in Sweden, to a goal line-out stopper under Benoit Allaire in New York. Among the biggest was a higher initial glove position. In fact, both the glove itself and where he holds it have changed.
Early in his NHL transition, Lundqvist tried a practice glove for the first time, and liked the bigger appearance from the wide opening that he kept it for games.
“A couple years ago my glove was so stiff I couldn’t close it at all,” he told InGoal. “But the last two years I actually changed it so now it’s a little softer glove. I still like it wide open but now I can at least move it a little bit and almost close it.”
The reason he likes the open look is how much net it takes away, a form of visual intimidation that makes him look bigger than he is despite playing so deep.
“I try to, especially in close, take that look away,” he said of the top corner. “A lot of players try to go short side on all the goalies the way everybody is playing today. Everybody is different, and I just feel comfortable playing that way.”
Lundqvist showed off both with this breakaway save off David Krejci Tuesday night to preserve his shutout:
That stop was also the perfect example of the benefit of a breakaway drill that Lundqvist likes to do. Be sure to read all about Lundqvist’s evolution into the League’s best goalie – and the drills he uses to stay sharp – in the latest edition of InGoal Magazine.
As for Tuesday night’s incredible performance, Lundqvist also got lucky on a dramatic head save off Zdeno Chara while lying on his back – and not just because the big Bruins’ defenseman didn’t lean into one of his record-setting slappers from close range. Lundqvist is no stranger to stopping pucks on purpose with the mask (more on that below) but as you can see in the video highlight, the puck actually catches him on the side of the helmet. Goalie masks aren’t designed to stop pucks from the side, and doing so can actually lead to ruptured ear drums, something Columbus backup Curtis Sanford once found out the hard way in a warm up.
As for the purposeful head saves Lundqvist has made in the past, he told InGoal he has been doing since he was 15:
“I don’t want to cover my eyes with the glove,” the Swedish standout said with a smile. “It feels better to use the head. I probably don’t do it during practice, but during games it never hurts.”