There is no debating the fact that the Rangers had an extremely successful 2011-12 regular season---one of the best years in franchise history with 51 wins, 109 points, and first place in the Eastern Conference standings.
And at the heart of the Rangers success was a Vezina Trophy-worthy season from Henrik Lundqvist, who won a career-high 39 games (3rd most in the NHL), posted a career-best 1.97 goals against average (4th best in the league), had a sterling .930 save percenatge (3rd best in the NHL), and eight shutouts (also 3rd best in the league).
Now as the Rangers prepare for the opening of the Stanley Cup playoff on Thursday, the team's No. 1 goalie is ready for even more success.
"I think we should look back on the regular season and know we had a great season and we should be proud of it," explained Lundqvist following Monday's practice at the MSG Training Center. "But now the second chapter starts, and it's a new challenge. I think we have the team to do something special."
Lundqvist has captured a pair of Swedish Elite League championships, and, of course, backstopped Sweden to the gold medal in the 2006 Winter Olympics, so he knows a thing or two about winning. However the Rangers have yet to advance past the second round of the playoffs since he arrived on Broadway back in 2005-06, and both he and the team are hungry to do that this spring.
"I've been there, and I know what I have to go through and what I have to do," explained Lundqvist. "It's a different league, but still the same mentality, the same approach. I am excited for it to get going."
Lundqvist has the complete backing of his coaches and teammates heading into the post-season. He is often referred to by both as "the backbone" of this Rangers team.
"I have watched him improve this year, and really since the last quarter of last year," head coach John Tortorella said on Monday. "And the way he's built, he wants to improve. He likes the spotlight, and in all playoff series the goalies are in the spotlight. I think he's going to thrive in it."