Lundqvist follows orders, carries team on his shoulders

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Almost forgot … my column from The Journal News and lohud.com:

By Rick Carpiniello

GREENBURGH – Know this. The Rangers will play a team with a ton more playoff experience and recent Stanley Cup jewelry. They will have, on their own side, a couple of guys who won a Cup together 10 years ago and are aching to do it again.

They have a bunch of players hitting their primes with a hunger to finish off this opportunity after coming close, but not nearly close enough, just two years ago.

And the guy behind the Rangers and in front of the Los Angeles Kings — the guy in the mask and the crown, who goes by the nickname “King” — will want it more than all of them.

Henrik Lundqvist will have to be at his best to finally win the Stanley Cup. Maybe better than he’s ever been, and he’s been pretty darn spectacular for most of this playoff run, and most of his career.

That tumbling, drop-the-stick, windmill save he made in the 1-0 Game 6 clinching shutout over Montreal Thursday will be one for the ages. More so if it ends up with a parade.

Lundqvist tied Mike Richter’s franchise playoff shutouts record in Game 6, broke Richter’s franchise playoff wins record. He is the reason the Rangers will play a ninth series in three years, starting Wednesday, especially with his 5-1 career record in Game 7s, with a 1.00 goals-against average and .965 save percentage. And his 10-2, 1.32, and .957 in the last 12 facing elimination.

He will, at least until proven otherwise, be the better goalie in the series, and the most important player on either team.

On Sunday it was back to work for Lundqvist and the Rangers, after two days off.

“You try to relax, but it’s hard because you know it’s coming,” Lundqvist said about the down time. “You know what’s ahead and it’s so exciting. So you take two days to reflect a little bit where you are, but also where you want to go from here.”

That’s been his mantra. Where he wants to go. He has repeatedly said how important it is for him, and his teammates, to “leave it all out there.” He had a sniff in 2012. He can surely get a better one now.

On Thursday, his teammates made life fairly easy on Lundqvist, throwing a wet blanket over the Canadiens. Still, there was the windmill save, and later a soccer-style header of a shot he sent into the screen above the glass. His performance was regal, again, even after being pulled, for the second time in these playoffs, in Game 5.

“It’s been tough,” he said. “You think a lot, and going into the playoffs you talked about it is a roller coaster mentally. You have so many highs. You have a few lows where you’re questioning a lot of things, but then you just have to make up your mind. You can’t have any excuses.

“But it’s definitely a test mentally when you play a game like that. And in the position you’re in, you have so much to lose, but also so much to win. You just have to look at it the right way.”

The whole season has been that way. A struggle from the start, a new contract negotiation he later admitted was distracting.

“It was definitely a tough stretch,” he said. “One of the toughest I’ve had in my career.”

So he was asked Sunday if that adverstity can help him over the next two or three weeks, the final rungs on the ladder.

“Good question,” Lundqvist said. “I think it definitely helps you to appreciate the good times and understand, when you go through a tough stretch, what you should focus on and who you should listen to and who you should stay away from.”

He smiled.

“It’s been a tough season, and you learn a lot about yourself and you have to go through different types of stretches, good and bad. But I think it helped this team to get stronger, get together, and when you’re in a tough spot, you really have to come together as a group to get out of it. You can’t do it on your own. It doesn’t matter how much you want it. You need to get on the same page. So I think that early stretch really tested us mentally and helped us regroup.”

On the day Lundqvist signed his new seven-year, $59.5 million contract, which kicks in next season, Rangers GM Glen Sather praised his person, made a crack about his taste in fashion, then looked at his team’s best player.

“It’s up to you, Henry,” Sather said. “Now just carry us on your shoulders.”

And he has. All aboard.

***********************************************

BROTHERLY ADVICE: Marc Staal said he’s spoken with his brothers — Eric, who won the Cup with Carolina in 2006, and Jordan, who lost in a final in ’08 and won the Cup in ’09 with Pittsburgh.

“Jordan’s been twice, Eric’s been once; both have had success and non-success,” Staal said. “(They said) ‘it’s a different animal.’ They’re like anyone: ‘Just go out there, enjoy it, and leave it all out there and see what happens.’ ”

AV THE DJ: Alain Vigneault was talking about how he’s evolved as a coach, and gave this as an example:

“It might sound stupid but I always, for a 7 p.m. game, 6:30 warmups, at 6 my teams always shut the music off in the dressing room,” Vigneault said.

When he got to New York, after a few exhibition games with the music cut off early, “a couple guys came in and see me and said, ‘We’re not used to this.’ So I said, ‘OK, we’ll go to 6:15.’ After a couple weeks a couple more guys said, ‘Listen, we’d like to play music until warmups start.’

“I said, ‘OK, fine. If that’s how you’re going to get in your zone, go ahead and do it.’ You’ve got to understand where your players are coming from. Each player has to be handled differently, and it takes a bit of time.”

Vigneault was asked who came to him and he smiled. “The first guy who came to see me was Dan (Girardi) … and I think he was doing it for Hank (Lundqvist).”

 

Twitter: @RangersReport

Photo by USA Today.

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100 Comments

  1. Stranger Nation on

    We got the stopper named Hank
    LA going to get a nasty spank
    we from New York City
    them from sunny and chitty

  2. iManny-O-War on

    Nice piece, Carp!

    Kind of unreal that LeNeveu may have to suit up to back up Hank in Game 1. I don’t know much about the kid besides him being a very vocal supporter of this team.

  3. Del Z’s choice of locker music probably helped in getting him shipped. Might as well be in prison.

  4. article — well-done, well-written

    Staal item — nice to hear he reached out to brothers. wonder if there’s more that he’s not revealing.

    AV on music in locker room — LOVE THAT!! i’d be one of those players who would need music going on ’til i stepped out on the ice. then again, i’d probably be listening with headphones/earbuds since the Rangers playlist…what i’ve heard so far….wouldn’t get me in the right mood.

  5. Coos, POP BELKIN Airlines has some great deals on 2-day flights to California. Also, With the ticket you get a free Army surplus WWII 82nd airborne re-issued parachute with a round trip (hopefully)ticket purchase. Same price as the Ranger Sweater, $63!!!!!!!!!!

    Let’s do It!!!!

  6. Should we pay just one way in case something happens, we crash, and they keep the money? Like Eddie Money says: Two tickets and a pair a dice.

  7. Could use that WWII parachute, though. Saw one on the NHL store website with Ranger logo for $63.33

  8. When do the Rangers fly out to LA? That is, if they even decide to. I mean, all the “experts” say we have no chance at all to even win one game, let alone the series. All this chatter makes me sick.

  9. Eddie Eddie Eddie on

    Brassard is going to light Quack up like high beams on an empty night time country road.

    Let’s go rangers
    Let’s go rangers
    Let’s go rangers.

  10. Eddie Eddie Eddie on

    Hope the rangers are reading and hearing all this BS about how they have no chance to win this series.

    Game 1:

    Rangers 8
    Kings 0

    GWG Brassard. Quack gets chased after giving up 5 goals on 5 shots. Even Hank scores on Quack

  11. iManny-O-War on

    Challenges in baseball is so embarrassing. They just make this harder and harder to watch.

  12. “The empty net……… Mark Messier.”

    “DO YOU BELIEVE IT??”

    “DO YOU BELIEVE IT??”

  13. Crunching numbers…..$1,500 total cost game 2.

    Airfare, Hotel, Ticket, plus food and drink………Leave Friday home on Sunday…..

  14. NHL network with a real nice montage of Broadway hat passing. Also good stuff on match ups.

    I’m fired up! We’re in the Final!

    Let’s Go Rangers !!!

  15. Johnny"we arent built for this" boy on

    Huge thanks to Talbot.. The breaks were never better for Hank.

  16. As good as that 1994 film is, just think what the film would be like if we pull this off. The highlights are there. The comebacks, beating rivals. The MSL story. The windmill save. It’s all there.

    Four measly wins from stitching together one hell of a film.

    LGR !!!

  17. iManny-O-War on

    Mrs. Manny during a Taco Bell commercial: “WHY WAS THE TACO IN A WAFFLE!?”

  18. Orrsie,

    Since the playoffs started, this is the longest we’ve gone without talking.

    Miss ya buddy.

    :)

  19. So, the common sentiment among the hockey scholars (media) is that the Blueshirts may get a game or two in the SCF because the powerhouse Kings will be experiencing a let down from the Black Hawk series.

  20. Their going to experience a bigger let down.

    I hate the Kings.

    Let’s Go Rangers!

  21. For all the “suffering” we endure (suffering…tongue in cheek)……it’s still pretty special to be a Ranger Fan.

  22. at some point during the 2nd period Wednesday night, all doubt will be removed and I’ll come to realize, yes we have a legitimate chance to win the STANLEY CUP!!!!!!

    For that is when, the pressure and anxiety of the moment will kick in for real. Holy siht!!!

  23. Carpus, not sure if you’ll read this …….

    John VanBiesbrook (spelling) was one of my pre-cup favorite Rangers. How was he viewed in the eyes of his teammates,,,the media???

    Am I wrong to recall that his teammates weren’t very fond of him????

  24. IF NYR are going to beat this KINGS team, they are going to have to play their best hockey yet!

    Nash….I’m looking at you!

    Not going to be easy, but should be a lot of fun!

  25. Good evening all!

    Sorry if this is late….but just got off phone with NHL shop re: jersey deal

    as thought, someone hartelled up. But some people are getting their orders, others..me included..are not, and getting a $10 gift card instead.

    I implore you…..call and complain!!! Don’t be mean to the person on phone…my guy was great…but register your displeasure!

  26. I have many rich friends in southern California. They ALL know what big fans my wife and I are. I am waiting near my email mailbox, my cell phone and I also am looking for the rumor mill. Please! Hope! Hope!

    LGR!

  27. Um wouldn’t say that’s 100 percent accurate about the Beezer. He was popular with the media because he would say stuff and he was a wise guy and pretty funny. but he definitely rubbed people the wrong way, and he was hardly the perfect mentor for the young No. 35.

  28. Carp, wish I had missed that post. Didn’t know that in my younger years, met him, loved him and my first frigging cat was named after him…

  29. I remember when Beezer put his hand through a glass table. Don’t remember the year but remember the big sliced, bandaged hand.

  30. Now Dan Marino and a dozen others are suing the NFL for concussions. Sleep tight, Mr. Bettman.

  31. jpg's sister on

    I am not used to being in this position at this time of year—waiting for the blueshirts to play in the Stanley Cup playoffs. I don’t know how to prepare.

    I have even had friends and family who are Pens fans wish me luck. but we didn’t talk during the rangers/pens series.

  32. Yup. I remember when pro teams were leery of drafting him because there was a rumor he was drinking beer in college and may have done the 420 a time or two. My, my, how things change.

  33. Carp. Thanks for Beezer info….that’s why you are the best.

    I can see why I liked the Beezer……..bit, I also liked Gary Carter and loved Ray Knight.

    Didn’t like Kevin McReynolds much……..can’t stomach Nash either (surprise!)

    I’m consistent at least.

  34. Btw, probably not many of us Who would be the perfect mentor to the guy who was about to move you out…….except maybe Kevin Weekes? But, he apparently had his eyes on other things ( Katy Tappen?)

  35. I promised the wife, we win the Cup….2 months in Europe. No guitar. Just sight seeing and love making.

  36. Of Kissing Mary’s lips

    Dreaming of Mercy Street,
    Where you’re inside out.
    Dreaming of Mercy,
    In your Daddy’s arms again

    Dreaming of Mercy,
    I swear they moved that sign
    Looking for Mercy
    In your Daddy’s Arm

  37. Carter and Knight were filled with passion. McReynolds was Mr. Super Athlete in every way, 5 tool, but no pizzazz, appeared disinterested.

  38. Peter Gabriel has a similar affect on my karma as did the Beezer…… Weird. Very weird.

  39. In my dream,
    drilling into the marrow
    of my entire bone,
    my real dream,
    I’m walking up and down Beacon Hill
    searching for a street sign –
    namely MERCY STREET.
    Not there.

  40. Ann,
    with her father
    Is out in the boat,
    Riding the water,
    Riding the wind,
    Of the sea.

  41. Stranger Nation on

    McReynolds was a good ol Arkansasian boy who rather be duck hunting than carousing with the low lifes on that team.

  42. Manny,

    Peter Gabriel Live,
    Is an excellent way
    To spend an evening.

    A really special night.

  43. Mercy Street
    is a haunting song
    From which
    I can never
    Turn away….
    Never…..
    Turn…..
    Away….

  44. iManny-O-War on

    @KennyAlbert: West Final: 51 goals in 7 games. East Final: 35 goals in 6 games (including a 7-goal game by each team!). @NHL @NYRangers @LAKings

  45. jimG the desertrat on

    My beloved Rangers will fly over soon lighting the desert sky with a radiance only matched by the glow of Broadway.

  46. As I said before, this is the opportunity Rick Nash whined himself out of Columbus to get and the opportunity many believe we lost in 2012 because we didn’t trade for him at the deadline.

    Let’s get it done.

  47. Robby Bonfire on

    This post-season was setting up nicely for the Rangers, with the Canadiens taking care of the Bruins, then skating in wet cement in game one vs. the Rangers, from the fatigue of beating the Bruins.

    BUT THEN, listening to the local Chicago radio station call of their game seven vs. LA, the Chicago announcer and his color man were adamant, with back-up support from the replay video, that the LA tying goal, prior to their winning goal, was a blatant offsides non-call by the officials. I mention this because I haven’t seen (or just plain missed) references to this “offsides goal” situation shifting the outcome of the Chi-LA deciding game, on Chicago ice, no less.

    No question but the Rangers would have had a better chance vs.the Noir Hawks, close to 50-50. Now we are a heavy dog, all thanks to the Zebras’ crass incompetence. I don’t like the way this is setting up nicely for LA. We are going to have to play nearly perfect hockey, throughout, to steal this thing. We can do it, but it certainly is a tall order.

  48. Don’t sleep
    Don’t eat
    What do you do?
    Don’t sleep
    Don’t eat
    What do you do?
    Must Stanley Cup with the King and boys in blue.

    See I’m insane already! Let’s do it boys! Bring it on home!

    LGR!!

  49. Good morning, boneheads!

    The more stories I read about LA steamrolling the Rangers, the better I feel. I hope LA Kings feel as arrogant as some of the writers and experts who contributed to this so far.

  50. Admiral Akbar on

    Right, Ilb.

    Arrogance -> overconfidence -> complacency

    Helps the Ranger cause.

  51. I get that LA is a good team otherwise they wouldn’t be in the finals but I can’t help but think they’ve gotten a lot of lucky bounces to help their cause. Look at Game 7…

    Carter – Goal out of the air on the rebound
    Williams – Rozsival blocks the shot right to a wide open Williams in the slot
    Toffoli – Blocked shot to a wide open Toffoli
    Gaborik – Rebound falls right at Gaborik’s feet
    Martinez in OT – Deflection off the D and in

    Obviously playing hard to every whistle creates a lot of luck but for as much as the Rangers are the underdogs I have an equally hard time believing LA is truly as good as they’re being painted in the media.

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