By Barbara Barker
This is Henrik Lundqvist's moment.
It's the moment that eluded him through his first eight NHL seasons and seven failures in the playoffs.
It's the moment that looked as if it might never come early this season when the Rangers goaltender struggled to adjust to a new system under offensive-minded coach Alain Vigneault.
This is the moment when Lundqvist can secure his legacy, his place in the hearts of New York sports fans, by helping the Rangers bring home a Stanley Cup.
Lundqvist has two Olympic medals and more wins than any other goalie in Rangers history, but he still needs to hoist that Stanley Cup on his shoulders to avoid being the Patrick Ewing of the Rangers -- a great player who never gets his due because he never won it all.
Marty Biron, who backed up Lundqvist in goal for three seasons and is working for the NHL Network during the Stanley Cup Final, thinks Lundqvist now has a chance to end any discussion about who is the best goalie to play for the Rangers.
"Henrik is getting a chance to move ahead of everybody," Biron said in a phone interview Monday. "Everybody talks about Mike Richter and Eddie Giacomin, but mostly Richter. Even though Henrik has beaten Richter's record [for franchise wins], Richter has the Stanley Cup, and that will always put him up there at the top.
"Henrik now has the chance to be the Rangers' No. 1."
In April, a week before the start of the playoffs, Lundqvist talked about how winning the Cup was the one great challenge he had left. On Monday, it was clear that Lundqvist is ready to get the series going against the Kings.
"I'm excited," he said. "I definitely look forward to this."
Lundqvist enters the Final coming off a 1-0 shutout of the Montreal Canadiens in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference finals. Lundqvist had to make only 18 saves in that game, but he will be remembered forever for his Dominik Hasek-like stop in the second period on a deflected puck.
That twirling save was all it took to convince Biron that Lundqvist was determined to make it to the next level.
"That isn't the way Hank plays. He's a very structured, inside-the-box-type goalie," Biron said. "I had a chance to play with Dominik in Buffalo, and he made plays like that all the time. When I see Hank pull a rabbit out of the hat and make a save like that, it tells me he's going to do anything he needs to do to get there."
If there was any doubt how big winning that game was for Lundqvist, it was obliterated later Thursday night when he tweeted: "It took me nine years, finally made it. My first Stanley Cup final! So proud of this group of guys! 4 to go . . . "
This is Lundqvist's moment.