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Friday, March 25, 2011

Lundqvist Finds Benefits in Starting Every Game


From Slap Shot, the NY Times Hockey Blog:

“You definitely get in a rhythm,” Lundqvist said after the Rangers’ 2-1 shootout loss to Ottawa, the goaltender’s 19th consecutive start. “You don’t have to think too much or wonder if you’re playing this game or that game. Being focused and ready is not a problem.”

The intense workload has not been a burden for the All-Star goaltender. He is 7-1-1 with a 1.86 goals-against average, .936 save percentage and two shutouts in his last nine games. In the shootout loss to the Senators on Thursday, Lundqvist made 29 saves on 30 shots in regulation time. He stopped Jason Spezza, Ryan Shannon, Marek Svatos and Nick Foligno in the shootout before Erik Karlsson beat him with a wrist shot on Ottawa’s fifth shootout attempt to win the game.

Biron is not expected back before the start of the first round of the playoffs, and Lundqvist might have made all of these starts even if a more qualified backup was available to Rangers Coach John Tortorella. Since Biron sustained the injury, the Rangers have played games on consecutive nights only once (on March 3 and 4). The next back-to-backs arrive next week with road games in Buffalo (Wednesday) and Long Island (Thursday). Lundqvist says there is little challenge to being ready for all of them, as the Rangers seek to clinch a playoff berth.

“The thing you have to keep in mind is, you know how important every game is this time of year,” he said. “So not only do I have the luxury of knowing I’ll probably get the next start, I’m locked in because of how crucial the two points are. This is fun. This is exciting.”

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