It's been some week for Henrik Lundqvist.
On Monday he backstopped the Rangers season-saving 3-2 win in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals in Ottawa. On Wednesday he was named as a finalist for the Vezina Trophy, awarded to the NHL's top goaltender. On Thursday he starred again between the pipes as the Rangers grabbed a series-clinching 2-1 victory in Game 7 against the Senators. And on Friday Lundqvist became the first goalie since Roberto Luongo in 2007 to be named a finalist for the Hart Trophy, awarded annually to the league's most valuable player.
"It's amazing, just some great news to get here in the morning," Lundqvist said after practice Friday. "It's been a fun year, a year where the team has played really well in front of me, helping me in so many different ways. I also feel like I pushed myself this year to try and play better and improve as a goalie. I'm really happy and honored and proud to be in that selection."
Lundqvist is joined as a Hart finalist by the NHL's two leading scorers from this past season, Pittsburgh's Evgeni Malkin and Tampa Bay's Steven Stamkos. Malkin led the league in points with 109, while Stamkos finished second with 97. However Stamkos led the NHL with 60 goals, ten better than Malkin.
The award is presented to the player deemed most valuable to his team, and certainly the Rangers believe Lundqvist fits that description to a tee.
"It's fantastic, and you don't see that often with a goaltender in that position," Rangers head coach John Tortorella said following practice. "For this guy here, and for what he has done for the hockey club, he belongs there (among the finalists)."
The last goalie to win the Hart Trophy was Montreal's Jose Theodore back in 2002. The last Ranger to be a finalist for the Hart Trophy was Jaromir Jagr in 2006.
"I felt like I was more determined this year," explained Lundqvist. "Going into this year I was more prepared. i played a little less, but had more energy to push myself in practice, and to work on details. I think that helped my game. Every year you learn something about the game and about yourself, you get a better understanding of how to approach it. I feel like I have found a good balance with everything."