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‘Rangers Inside And Out’
By Sean Hartnett
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Alone stands a masked man in white. He is the last line of defense. His duty is to guard his post from an army of onrushing soldiers dressed in red with the mark of the demon across their chest.
That man is Henrik Lundqvist. The one whom Rangers fans call ‘King Henrik.’ He is faced with not only the task of keeping goals out of his net, but also must keep his mindset and not allow the tremendous pressure placed upon him to seep into his consciousness.
Instead of focusing on the pressure of having to rescue the Rangers in Game 6, Lundqvist embraces the challenge presented in front of him.
“It’s always exciting, in a game where it’s all or nothing here, to keep playing or go home,” Lundqvist stated on Friday. “And you just have to see it as an exciting game, a great challenge, a great opportunity instead of just a lot of pressure.”
It’s that kind of mentality that has allowed Lundqvist to perform time after time, when the Rangers have needed him the most.
“You don’t put more pressure on yourself,” he explained. “You go out there and try to play your game and focus on the things you want to focus on. I’m looking forward to the game. Of course, everybody knows it’s an important game, but when you play you try just to block everything out.”
Lundqvist and the Rangers were in a similar position when they were down 3-2 to the Senators in the first round of the playoffs.
Henrik and the Blueshirts entered the hostile atmosphere of Scotiabank Place and pulled out an inspirational victory, which carried into their Game 7 series-clinching win at Madison Square Garden.
“We’ve responded in really good ways in the playoffs, but also during the year,” Lundqvist said confidently. “So I see it as a great thing for us and for our confidence. We’re playing a good team, so it’s going to be a tough game. But we know we can do it.”
Now, Lundqvist and the Rangers will enter ‘The Devils’ Den,’ the Prudential Center, looking to overcome a 3-2 series deceit against the greatest of clutch playoff net-minders in Martin Brodeur.
Lundqvist uncharacteristically surrendered three first-period goals to the Devils in Game 5, but that’s long behind Lundqvist. He isn’t focusing on the past no matter how recent, instead just concentrating on what’s presently in front of him.
“I don’t think about the last game,” he explained. “During the playoffs, you don’t look behind you. You always look forward to the next game. Whatever happens, the last game doesn’t really matter.”
Whatever the scenario, Lundqvist is blocking out all the pressure and distractions, simply taking it one game at a time.
“This is not over yet, so we’ll go out there and just try to play our best and see what happens,” he concluded.
Will Lundqvist find his best game and lead the Rangers to a Game 6 victory? Share your thoughts below and send your tweets to @HartnettWFAN.