By Larry Brooks
TAMPA, Fla. — Henrik Lundqvist, who has had his share of pucks blow by him in three previous All-Star Game appearances, put on his NHL promotional cap when asked about the change in format to 3-on-3 for this year’s event in Nashville, Tenn.
Or was that his promotional crown?
“I think it is fun that they switched things up,” The King said before the Rangers’ 2-1 loss to the Lightning on Thursday night. “In the end they want to make something unique and fun for the fans.
“This 3-on-3 is so new … I’m not sure what my opinion is on it right now, but for an All-Star weekend, why not? I think the whole weekend is about promoting the [league] and making it special for the fans.”
Six forwards, three defensemen and two goaltenders will be selected from each division. The Eastern Conference teams will play 20 minutes, the Western Conference teams will play 20 minutes, and then the two victorious divisional squads will face off in a 20-minute championship final. The winning team will split a $1 million prize.
Lundqvist has allowed 12 goals on 47 shots in 58:25 (12.75 goals-against-average, .745 save percentage) as a sacrificial lamb over previous All-Star appearances in 2009 (when he was strafed for six goals on 21 shots in the second period in Montreal), 2011 and 2012.
“It’s already out of your comfort zone, because of the way the game is played, so it doesn’t really matter if the game is 5-on-5 or 3-on-3,” he said. “This might be even more action, but again, you go there to enjoy the game, to meet the players and to promote the game.
“I think this is just another opportunity to promote it and do a fun and unique thing. Every time you try something new it’s hard to know how it’s going to play out.”
Lundqvist, who plays a mean guitar, mentioned the good music in Nashville. Asked whether there is such a thing called, “Swedish country,” he laughed.
“No,” he said. “But maybe now, something new.”