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Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Henrik Lundqvist Wants To See a Parade in New York


LOS ANGELES — His legacy as an NHL goaltender is not all that drives Henrik Lundqvist.

There is a photo in the Rangers’ training center in Greenburgh, N.Y., which may provide the most incentive to the 32-year-old Swede when it comes to his desire to win a Stanley Cup. The photograph is of the Rangers’ parade in 1994.

"I’ve been walking by that photo every day for nine years and I’ve seen myself being there. I definitely want to be there. It’s been a dream for a long time," Lundqvist said yesterday on the eve of the Stanley Cup Final against the Los Angeles Kings.

Game 1 will be played Wednesday night at the Staples Center. Lundqvist is four wins away from winning his first Cup and experiencing the New York City parade of his dreams.

But he may also be four wins away from the missing piece to his legacy as one of the greatest goalies in NHL history. Without a ring, will he truly be appreciated for being as good as he’s been?

"He’s been a proven goaltender since the time I got here eight years ago," teammate Dan Girardi said. "Obviously playing for a Cup is going to help his résumé, but I don’t think he has to do that much more to be recognized as one of the best goalies in the league."

But losing to the Kings would end the fact that Lundqvist may be the best goalie never to have won a Stanley Cup.

"When you play this game, you want to win. It’s about winning," Lundqvist said. "I got the question going into the playoffs about if I have anything to prove in the playoffs. I don’t feel that way.

"I see this as a great opportunity, though, for us as a team and for me personally to try win a Cup. No question. I’ve been in New York nine years and it’s been a dream ever since I came to New York to try to win and bring the Cup to New York. We definitely have the team to do it. Now it comes down to we need everybody to play their best."

He will be matched against Kings goalie Jonathan Quick. Lundqvist has the better stats in these playoffs, but Quick won a Cup two years ago against the Devils.

"He’s one of the best in the league," Lundqvist said. "We’re kind of opposites. He’s extremely aggressive. He’s like a gymnast out there, all over the place, but he’s so quick and so powerful.

"I sit back. I try to stay deep in my net and maybe more in position. But in the end it’s about stopping the puck and he does it really well. It’s going to be a fun challenge for me. You have to expect going into the playoffs that every team has a great goalie, but Quicky is obviously one of the top in the league. We have to make it tough for him to see the puck."

Quick was hit in the shoulder by a shot during the Kings’ practice yesterday and left the ice, but coach Darryl Sutter said there was no reason for concern.

"No. Jonathan is a tough guy. He’s probably the first guy out of the room," Sutter said.

Quick indicated he was leaving the ice anyway and would be okay for Game 1.

As for Lundqvist, he is ready to go. He will try to enjoy his first Final as best he can.

"You try to enjoy it, but it’s not like you go out every game and have a blast. That’s not how it works," the Rangers’ goalie explained. "You go out and you’re super-focused and it’s intense.

"But there are moments through the game when you get a rush or you just take that moment in and really enjoy it. Then you go back to being really focused on what you have to do. You have between games where you can enjoy it and reflect a little bit on where you are."

So close that the Stanley Cup is within his grasp.

"Now is not different from other years. This is something I’ve wanted for a long time and it doesn’t change when you get close," Lundqvist said. "You always have this feeling going into the season. You always have this feeling going into the playoffs. Of course you’re going to get more excited the closer you get, but you try to keep your same mindset and same focus you’ve had all along."

Unlike some of his fellow goalies, Lundqvist may have other chances in the future. But he knows how difficult it is to get here and wants to seize the opportunity.

"It’s not always about the last game of the season, trying to win that," he suggested. "It’s about the entire year, trying to have fun and see what you can accomplish year after year.

"But when you break it down, in the end, of course you want to win. You want to win the Cup and we’re four wins away. I know this next step will be the toughest one to take, but to me personally it would mean everything."

His teammates have faith in him.

"I think I’m lucky to be able to play behind him for eight years now. I think he’s the best goalie in the league," Girardi said. "To have him back there you know if you make that little mistake it’s not going to cost you every time. Having him back there playing the best hockey I’ve ever seen him play I think gives us a good chance."

They are the underdogs.

"I don’t know how I see us. I think it’s 50-50 here," Lundqvist suggested. "It’s going to come down to will. How badly do you want this? When I look at the teams, we’re pretty even all the way through."

He’s got that parade photo as added motivation.

"There are a bunch of photos," Lundqvist said with a smile. "There is (Mark) Messier (lifting the Cup), guys on the buses with people everywhere, (all) of New York celebrating.

"It’s a sports town. When things start going well for any team in that town, it’s exciting. We’ve seen the Yankees and the Giants win and what happens to that city and obviously what it would mean to this organization. It would mean everything and it would be very special to be part of it."

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