The Rangers play six back-to-back games and never have more than two days of rest in between games.
This season is a sprint, not a marathon.
The temptation will be there to play Lundqvist as much as possible to ensure a favorable playoff seed. The temptation will also be there to play him as much as possible since he's had a few months off and should be raring to go.
But that's not a wise thing to do.
For one, if Lundqvist ends up playing, say, 45 games, there's a great chance that he will burn out before the playoffs.
Let's not forget that there is only a week of training camp and no preseason. Lundqvist is being dropped into the fire. There's a huge danger of burning out.
That's why the team needs to manage his workload. The Rangers can do this in three ways:
- Never play him on back-to-back nights.
- Pull him out of blowouts.
- Don't be afraid to use Martin Biron.
That last point bears some fleshing out.
Martin Biron is one of the best backups in hockey. He could start for a number of teams. Last season in 21 games, Biron posted a 12-6-2 record with a 2.46 goals-against average and a .904 save percentage. He added two shutouts as well.
He's more than capable and can play the second of back-to-backs and in garbage time.
And let's face it: The Rangers could be playing on the winning end of a lot of blowouts. Making sure Lundqvist isn't playing meaningless minutes is critical.
The Rangers have the luxury of having a top backup. In this sprint of a season, they must use Biron. He's more than capable and will let Lundqvist rest so he is fresh for what has the potential to be a long playoff run.
The Rangers need to look at the overall picture. The goal is to win a Stanley Cup. The only way to do that is for Lundqvist to be on his game.
Making sure he's not burned out is the best thing the Rangers can do this season.