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Lundqvist nervous, excited to play in home country

Tuesday, 09.27.2011 / 12:25 PM / 2011 Compuware NHL Premiere

By Matt Cubeta - NHL.com Staff Writer

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Lundqvist nervous, excited to play in home country
Henrik Lundqvist will face his brother and former teammates in Frolunda.
There's no place like home.

During the regular season, Henrik Lundqvist calls Madison Square Garden his home, but on Sept. 30, "King Henrik" will return to his actual homeland in Sweden, where he'll be greeted with an ovation similar, if not louder, than the one he receives from the Garden denizens.

From playing against his former team Frolunda HC -- which includes Henrik's identical twin brother Joel and several of his close friends -- to playing in front of tons of family and friends, it will certainly be an emotional experience for Lundqvist.

"(There will be) a lot of family and friends going to the game," Lundqvist told NHL.com. "I'm going to be a little nervous, but it's also going be pretty emotional I think. A lot of good years back in Gothenburg, a lot of great memories. It will be a very special night for me. I look forward to it a lot."

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Henrik and Joel grew up as big fans of Frolunda HC, and while Henrik lived the dream of playing for the club from 2000-05, it's his brother who now captains the team.

Joel Lundqvist is no stranger to the NHL, however.

He spent three seasons with the Dallas Stars from 2006-09 before heading back home to play for Frolunda. The Lundqvist brothers faced each other four times in the NHL -- Henrik started in goal for three of the contests.

While Henrik might miss his brother playing in the NHL, he knows Joel is fulfilling a childhood dream.

"I'd love to see him over here, but he's doing good back home," Henrik said. "His last year here he had a couple of injuries so it was tough for him to get a good deal. Then he signed back home -- and we always wanted to play for that team in Gothenburg growing up. Ever since we were 5 (or) 6 years old that's been the team for us. For him to go back and now he's the captain there; he loves it there."

The usually calm and composed Lundqvist will have to fight off excitement when he suits up with the Rangers to take on his former club in the exhibition game on Sept. 30. After all, it is all about bragging rights against family and friends.

In fact, Henrik can hardly envision what it will be like if he allows a goal against Joel in the game.

"A little worried, a little nervous," he said when asked about the matchup. "I remember the times I played against him when Joel was with Dallas and I was very nervous every game. But I also have a bunch of friends on that team (Frolunda HC) that I played with for probably eight or nine years -- as a junior player and as a pro for five years in Sweden."

Henrik and Joel might not be as close as they were when they were kids growing up in Sweden, but they still remain in touch regularly.

"Growing up we were really tight, we did everything together," Henrik added. "We're very supportive of each other. We kind of challenged each other to work harder as well."

"(There will be) a lot of family and friends going to the game. I'm going to be a little nervous, but it's also going be pretty emotional I think. A lot of good years back in Gothenburg, a lot of great memories. It will be a very special night for me. I look forward to it a lot." -- Henrik Lundqvist

As a kid, Henrik hoped his destiny would involve being one of the world's best goaltenders.

"My first idol was Peter Lindmark," Lundqvist said. "He was a big goalie in the late 80's. I used to watch him play on TV and all."

Lindmark was a netminder that led Sweden to a gold medal at the World Championships in 1987, when Lundqvist was just 5 years old. Now it's Lundqvist leading Team Sweden to the medal rounds (Olympic gold in 2006, silver medals in the World Championships in 2003 and 2004) in international competition.

But it was not just his love of Lindmark that sent Henrik down his career path, it was also a sibling rivalry with his brother that took shape on the streets around their childhood home.

"Being two guys (Henrik and Joel) and playing in the street a lot, someone had to be in net, and I guess it was me. It just happened. I think it could have been Joel as well, but it just happened it was me. I loved it from Day One."

Quote of the Day

I downplayed the first one because I thought it's just a hockey game. We just want to win the game; it's against our rival and we want the two points. I downplayed it, but now having gone through the first one I look back and say, 'Geez, that was really cool.' I think as I've grown a bit older I've got a lot more appreciation for what we're allowed to do every day.

— Capitals forward Brooks Laich on the 2015 NHL Bridgestone Winter Classic, the second one of his career after 2011 in Pittsburgh