Can Capitals exploit 'smaller' Lundqvist?

Can Capitals exploit 'smaller' Lundqvist?
October 16, 2013, 6:00 am
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Caps prepare for first meeting with Rangers

When the NHL cracked down on goaltending equipment this summer more than a few players wondered how smaller pads would impact New York Rangers goaltender Henrik Lundqvist.

If the first five games are any indication, less padding has meant more goals.

In five appearances this season Lundqvist is 1-3-0 and ranks 41st in goals-against average [4.21] and 34th in save percentage [.887].

How does that compare with Lundqvists’ career numbers in his previous eight NHL seasons? The 31-year-old netminder had a career GAA of 2.25 and a career save percentage of .920.

“He’s a great goaltender and it’s always a challenge to beat him,” said Capitals left wing Jason Chimera. “So maybe we can take advantage of his smaller equipment.”

Chimera has had remarkable success against Lundqvist in his career, especially in the playoffs. Of his eight career goals in the post-season, six have come against Lundqvist.

“I got in his head,” Chimera said with a laugh. “Good goal scorers get in guys’ heads and he’s the enemy. I love playing against them. Hopefully, it continues tomorrow.”

Following last year’s seven-game playoff loss to the Rangers nearly everyone on the Capitals, including captain Alex Ovechkin, credited Lundqvist as the difference in the series. He was perfect in Games 6 and 7 in that series, stopping all 62 shots in those two games.

“He’s still a phenomenal goalie,” Caps right wing Troy Brouwer said. “He might have taken a little padding off the 5-hole, but he’s still a great goalie.

He’s a guy who can steal games for them. I know the team’s been struggling lately, but he’s a guy who could turn it around for them.”