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Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Henrik Lundqvist Will Know "Half the Arena" During Game in Sweden

By Andrew Gross

Life is pretty good for Henrik Lundqvist, who celebrated his bucolic wedding in the British Virgin Islands this summer with 32 close friends and family and is now a month shy of his seventh NHL season, during which he’ll turn 30.

Always optimistic and rarely flappable, the photogenic Rangers goalie has good cause to be excited for 2011-12. Given the addition of top-line center Brad Richards and the retention of last season’s developing core, Lundqvist rightfully believes he’ll be backstopping the best Rangers squad of his career.

"Last year, we were a pretty solid team," said Lundqvist, who will be among the Rangers touring several New York City Fire Department houses today and greeting family members affected by the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks at a reception at the World Trade Center site. "Now, with Brad, we have a little more edge to the team, there’s more skill here in the lineup."

Still, Lundqvist said what pleased him most during the off-season was the re-signing of restricted free agents Ryan Callahan, Brandon Dubinsky, Brian Boyle, Artem Anisimov and Mike Sauer to multi-year deals.

Training camp opens Sept. 16 but Lundqvist and a majority of his teammates are already going through daily, hour-long informal practices.

They do so knowing a repeat of last season’s first-round playoff ouster will now be considered a bitter disappointment, not a building season.

"We should have higher expectations than last year," Lundqvist said. "I think we’re a better team now than last year."

Certainly, Lundqvist and the Rangers will be a more visible team, between the season-opening games in Stockholm, Sweden, the exposure through HBO’s "24/7" of playing in the Winter Classic and the partially-renovated Madison Square Garden.

Plus, they’ll play Lundqvist’s former team, Frolunda, during the preseason in Gothenburg, Sweden, on Sept. 30.

"It’s very special," said Lundqvist, who’ll play against his twin brother, Joel. "I have a lot of friends on that team, a lot of guys I grew up with. They already told me how they’ll celebrate when they score."

Lundqvist said he would purchase about 25 tickets but laughingly added, "I’ll know about half the arena."

Yes, life is good on the cusp of what should be the Rangers’ best season so far with Lundqvist.

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