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Sunday, March 27, 2011

Wiser King Doesn't Take Playoff Berth For Granted

By Andrew Gross

GREENBURGH, N.Y. – Henrik Lundqvist turned 29 years old earlier this month, meaning he’s still a young man by all standards except as a professional athlete.

Not that Lundqvist is an NHL senior citizen. But the Rangers goalie has matured enough to know the playoffs aren’t a given.

"I think the older you get, the more you realize that you don’t have that many chances to make the playoffs and make a run," Lundqvist said. "That’s also a reminder that you really have to appreciate it and be ready."

"You kind of walk around a little anxious, a little nervous and a little excited at the same time," Lundqvist added. "I want to play. I want to see what will happen. I want to make it so bad. It’s stressful and exciting at the same time."

The Rangers made the playoffs in each of Lundqvist’s first four NHL seasons, advancing to the second round in 2006-07 and 2007-08.

Last season, the Rangers missed the postseason by one point when they lost a play-in season-finale at Philadelphia, 2-1, in a shootout.

"I keep reminding myself that I don’t want to be there," Lundqvist said. "You work so hard all year long and to be so close, it motivates me to play as good as I can.

"My first couple of years, I really expected to be in the playoffs and to be back every year in the playoffs," Lundqvist added. "Now, you’re never sure. Definitely, we should be there and we want to be there but it feels like every year it gets tougher and tougher because all the teams are even. But it’s good for the sport. Every team could be a top team."

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