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Lundqvist entered playoffs with unfinished business

May 21, 2014, 9:57 AM EDT

Henrik Lundqvist Getty Images

Two more wins. That’s what New York Rangers goaltender Henrik Lundqvist needs to reach the Stanley Cup Final for the first time in his career.

He’s been this close once before, when the Rangers faced the New Jersey Devils in the 2012 Eastern Conference Final. He doesn’t want a repeat of that six-game series loss.

“You don’t want to sit at the end of the year and feel like you had more to give,” Lundqvist said, per the Toronto Sun. “That’s what I felt a little bit the last time we were in the conference final. We didn’t reach our full potential, and it was extremely disappointing to end the season like that.

“My goal right now is to really try to reach my full potential and inspire teammates and everybody that’s helping us right now to kind of reach that level and see how far it takes us.”

He certainly did that in the Rangers’ 3-1 victory on Monday. He turned aside 40 of 41 shots and even earned the praise of Canadiens coach Michel Therrien.

Nearly three months removed from his 32nd birthday, Lundqvist’s storyline is that a Stanley Cup championship is the only glaring omission left on his resume. With the way he’s played in the 2014 postseason, that might not be the case for much longer.

  1. stepanup - May 21, 2014 at 10:53 AM

    I remember listening to 98.5 the Sports Hub in Boston after the Bruins eliminated the Rangers, and the station played a compilation of radio calls with Metallica’s “King Nothing” in the background. I was instantly pissed.

    Makes me really happy to see Henrik playing this well now.

    • billiam55 - May 21, 2014 at 6:26 PM

      the funny thing about that series, is that it wasnt even his fault they lost. team couldnt score for their lives last year. typical rangers. but this year looks like the king finally has a team in front of him

  2. bcsteele - May 21, 2014 at 10:57 AM

    While the Hawks and Kings have great teams (Hawks probably edge them) the Rangers don’t stack up really well against either one. Assuming the Rangers make the final (everyone seems to be on that boat) I feel like Lundqvist is the only reason the Rangers have a shot at the cup.

    On a similar note, as good as the favored teams out west are, I still feel like the Cup is really in the hands of Quick, Crawford, and Lundqvist. I feel whichever goalie simply decides they want it more is going to win cup regardless of the match up and take the Con Smyth as well.

    I would have mentioned Price but…about that.

    • jkay1818 - May 21, 2014 at 11:24 AM

      why would lundqvist be the only reason? since that insane road trip to start the season and learning AV’s system, the Rangers have been up there in points and just as good as anyone else in the NHL. Not to mention the have improved the team and solidified some positions. eg: upgrading klein over Del zotto, getting more scoring and a balanced attack overall with the addition of MSL.
      I don’t think anyone is rolling 4 lines as deep as them right now. Not saying all 4 lines are the greatest ever, but all 4 lines can compete.

    • arrow43050 - May 21, 2014 at 11:55 AM

      Here’s why the Rangers compare favorably to most other teams: other teams don’t really know how to play against them. Almost every team in the league plays with the same philosophy–you put your lockdown pair of defensemen against the other team’s top line and you try to have your best defensive line on against that same line, or try to make your best offensive line be on against them to try to negate that offense by making them play in your defensive zone. Against the Rangers, which line do you play your top pair against? The line with the most offensive talent and the biggest names (Rick Nash, Derek Stepan and Chris Kreider)? The line with the hottest scorer who is an historic scorer and the fastest skaters (Martin St. Louis, Brad Richards and Carl Hagelin)? Or the line that has actually produced the most offense with the most consistency this year AND throughout the playoffs (Mats Zuccarello, Derick Brassard and Benoit Puliot)? The Rangers tied for the league lead in road wins this year and that is almost certainly due to the fact that with the last change the other teams try to figure out how to match up lines and defense against them and struggle to do so.

      In a 7 game series this strength can also be a weakness, in that it produces less consistent scoring and also allows teams to play their top defense pair less as well as increasing the time given to a defensive line since they have more lines that they are needed against, thereby decreasing ice team and increasing rest for top players. I am excited to see how the rest of the playoffs play out for the Rangers but I don’t think they are an easy out against any team.

      • bmy0913 - May 21, 2014 at 1:41 PM

        This was a great summary of their style. What I’m most interested to see is how the D pairings are going to handle the difference in offensive style. Everything I’ve watched from Chicago and LA thusfar this postseason is speed and rush attack. I like the rangers odds there with Lundqvist playing so hot, and their defensive depth being what it is. I don’t see the same depth with either Chicago, or LA offensively for that matter. And even with the big names they bring to the table, the way the blueshirts have dispatched the Giroux, Crosby, Malkin, Subban, Pacioretty etc. lines and attempts thus far has been brilliant. All things considered, I think it would be a fools bet to just assume that the West has it on lock.

        I’m seeing two completely different types hockey being played on the coasts, and it’s exciting. But, throw a passive forecheck out on any of the Rangers D lines and take away that stretch pass and odd man rush, then you force either one to play out of their element. Not saying they can’t cycle a puck and put it on net, but my observation thus far tells me that may put a wrench in the works. Play well between the blue lines, dump check and chase to set up situations to spread out their D lines, and I also think they have a huge advantage with their depth seeing as all 4 lines are dangerous.

    • barkar942 - May 21, 2014 at 1:09 PM

      bcsteele, I have to agree with arrow’s assessment of the Rangers. Scoring is coming not only from those three lines, but also the fourth line of Boyle-Dorsett/Carcillo-D.Moore. I remember the one year when Prust, Boyle and Jody Shelley were the only ones on the whole team that could score. That was pathetic. Now their goals are coming from throughout the lineup.
      Also, it is obvious when the opponents top lines get to the ice on J. Moore and Kline. Definitely the Rangers weakest pair, but they still have managed to get the job done.
      Lundqvist has been more focused these last 5 games than I have ever seen him in the past. Out of the last 5 games, only two goals have actually gotten past Lundqvist directly off the stick of an opposing player- Malkin and Eller. The other 3 were off of Rangers legs or sticks and the one Pacioretty scored off his chest when Lundqvist poke checked it.
      As per the Hawks or Kings, the Rangers beat both of them this year. Let’s get by Montreal first, then we can see what they can do against either of the western teams.

  3. hockey412 - May 21, 2014 at 12:15 PM

    Of the four teams left, there is no one I’d like to see raise the cup more than Lundqvist. Deserves it.

    • 7mantel - May 21, 2014 at 1:59 PM

      412 feeling better ? You weren’t your old self .

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