After being the top netminder in the SEL during the 2002-03 season,
Henrik Lundqvist gave up that distinction to Finnish goaltender Fredrik Norrena last season. Lundqvist had a very mediocre start and during September, October and November he was not at all as consistent
as usual. However, halfway through the season he played better and at the end of the regular season Norrena was the only one that matched his GAA (2.17) and
save percentage (.927). In the playoffs, where Frölunda reached the semifinals, Lundqvist played very well having the best
save percentage of all goaltenders (.936), but Red Wings prospect Stefan Liv was the one that received all the attention since his team HV 71 became the SEL champions and Liv had
five shutouts in the playoffs.
Liv’s strong playoff performance did not stop Lundqvist from becoming the Swedish starter as the World Championships began in late April. Lundqvist started
eight out of nine games and was among the better goaltenders throughout the tournament having a .925
save percentage and a 1.64 GAA. During the summer the New York Rangers, who
drafted him in the
seventh round in 2000, were hoping to bring Lundqvist over, but he decided to stay in Sweden for
“It feels right for me and my career to play with Frölunda next season. There are so many question marks concerning the NHL and the lockout right now. Also, it is hardly a bad thing to go over to the NHL next year as a Swedish champion,” Lundqvist said in a press release as he announced that he would spend another season with Frölunda.
After seven games played, the 22-year-old Lundqvist has arguably been the top player in the entire league so far. There have probably never been as many good goaltenders in the Swedish Elite
league as there are this year because of the lockout. So far Lundqvist has outshined Miikka Kiprusoff, Rastislav Stana, Stefan Liv, Tommy Salo, Fredrik Norrena,
and Johan Holmqvist. He has played all of Frölunda’s seven games, posting a .965
save percentage and a 1.00 GAA. Lundqvist leads the league by a wide margin in those two categories and he also leads the league in shutouts as he has
on two occasions already stopped all shots.
Lundqvist was the center of the attention in the last round as Frölunda faced Södertälje. He made a real highlight save as he managed to stop a shot by Chris Ferraro when he more or less had an open net after receiving a pass from his twin brother Peter. Lundqvist was happy about his performance in the game, saving all 32 shots he faced, and admitted that the big save he made was one of his greatest.
Technically Lundqvist is not really doing anything new. The main thing that is different from his play last season is that he now is off to a better start,
as is Frölunda as a team. He is among the most technically skilled goaltenders in the league and has an exceptional understanding of the game. Lundqvist might not have the best glove in the league, nor is he the best stickhandler, but he has no major flaws and does everything above average. When it comes to coming out and taking down the angles,
the 6’1, 192-pound Lundqvist is up there with the very best goaltenders in the world. Shooters have major problems finding openings when he comes out and it has always been somewhat a trademark of his. He is also an agile netminder with very good reflexes. Lundqvist is not as spectacular as for example Stefan Liv, but he plays with more confidence and determination and he makes difficult saves look easy.
Like most young goaltenders Lundqvist could work some with his stickhandling, especially when leaving the crease.
|Team Sweden U18||WJC-18||4||2.25||.939|
|Team Sweden U20||WJC-20||7||1.86||.928|
|Team Sweden U20||WJC-20||7||2.15||.906|
|Team Sweden WCup||WCup||0||0||0|
SEL goalie leaders 2004-05
|12.||Stefan Liv||HV 71||7||3.74||.871|
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