How Henrik Lundqvist is dealing with the season that won’t end

How Henrik Lundqvist is dealing with the season that won’t end

Game 70 at the Garden on Monday night against the Candy Canes, so a dozen games will remain for Henrik Lundqvist to take something positive out of this Longest Season.

“For me, the rest of the year is about wanting to be able to feel good about myself and about us,” Lundqvist, who was set to back up Alex Georgiev for this one, told The Post. “I don’t want to look at the big picture and break everything down. I’m not looking ahead to next year. I’m not thinking about whether to play in the World Championships.

“I just want to take it day by day and play my best for this team. That’s the challenge. When it’s over, there will be time to reflect about what happened and look ahead. But not so much now.”

Lundqvist started 56 of the first 69 games and could post his highest number of starts since he got the call 67 times in 2010-11. But the Blueshirts’ position in the standings combined with the desire to see more of the 22-year-old Bulgarian-born Georgiev likely will reduce Lundqvist’s workload the rest of the way.

“I’ve talked a little bit about it with Benny,” Lundqvist said, referring to goaltending coach Benoit Allaire. “There’s nothing set in stone, but I’ll let it play out instead of just telling you the plan.”

The plan for Lundqvist to remain the core piece of the rebuild remains in place. The 36-year-old has not had second thoughts since first declaring his loyalty to the program in a Feb. 2 conversation with The Post.

LundqvistAnthony J. Causi

“Nothing has changed,” he said. “I haven’t talked to [management], I haven’t analyzed everything or asked too many questions. I just want to finish this season the best I can.

“I also want to believe that we can be a competitive team in the fall and build off that. I think we can be.”

The middle of the conference is pudding soft, with the chase for eighth place and a tournament spot littered with flawed teams such as Carolina, which entered Monday with 30 victories in 68 games. Hence, the bar to be competitive in 2018-19 is a relatively low one that the Blueshirts should be able to clear if general manager Jeff Gorton can pull off a savvy move or two while avoiding major blunders.

Still, this is the season that has Lundqvist’s attention and it’s one unlike any of the 12 that preceded it. This has not only been a roller-coaster season for the Swede, but a Kingda Ka ride, aptly named for the Six Flags Great Adventure structure that features the world’s longest drop.

For after an October in which he went 3-4-2 with an .898 save percentage and 3.21 GAA, Lundqvist carried the Blueshirts for 12 weeks of Hart-worthy performance in which he posted an 18-8-2 record with a .932 save percentage and 2.32 GAA. But that was followed by a steep drop through which the goaltender buckled under the strain of consistent defensive deficiency and delinquency in front of him and put up an ugly 4-10-2 record with an .896 save percentage and 4.08 GAA.

It was that level of inconsistency that Alain Vigneault inelegantly referenced before the Blueshirts-Flames game at the Garden on Feb. 9 while seeming to point the finger at Lundqvist as a primary culprit in the club’s demise. The goaltender was not especially pleased. Of course, the coach was not especially pleased that management a day earlier had pledged to break up his team.

“It came up once between us,” Lundqvist said Monday. “I understand his angle, sort of. When I look back on my season, the first half I felt as good as I had in years. I felt really sharp. But then as a team when we started to go left and right, my game wasn’t as consistent for a couple of weeks. So he definitely had a point about that. Beyond that, we can leave it there.”

The traditional overall numbers will lie about Lundqvist’s season. They won’t necessarily depict a man trying to stem a flood by putting 10 fingers in the dike until overwhelmed by the task and drowned under the onrushing flood.

“When you know you’re going to get maybe 30 scoring chances against, you wind up trying to do too much even though you have it in your mind not to,” he said. “A lot of times, you don’t give up goals on the big chances but on routine ones because you’ve gotten out of your plan.”

Lundqvist has gotten out of his plan — think the fourth goal in Tampa Bay on Thursday when caught scrambling after a puck-moving snafu behind the net — and thus, he has been pulled from five of his last 15 starts and eight overall.

“It bothers me to be taken out of so many games, absolutely,” he said. “There are some games where I understand, but there are games like Tampa where there’s a lot of chaos and 22 chances against in 30 minutes, and I feel like I should still be out there battling.

“It’s not easy. I’m not saying it’s easy for any of us now. Like I said, I just want to take whatever positive I can out of these next few weeks. After it’s over, I’ll look ahead.”

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