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Lundqvist focused on starting season in right way

Thursday, 10.06.2011 / 9:53 AM / 2011 Compuware NHL Premiere

By Dan Rosen - NHL.com Senior Writer

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Lundqvist focused on starting season in right way
The thrill of playing in his home country has worn off for Henrik Lundqvist. All the Rangers goaltender wants to do is start the season he believes could be a very special and successful one
STOCKHOLM -- Wojtek Wolski fired a high shot toward the end of Thursday's practice that drilled Henrik Lundqvist in the right shoulder, knocking the goalie to his knees.

Clearly OK but still in pain, Lundqvist easily could have called it a day right then. There was no reason for him to face another shot after seeing what had to be over 100 during the 90-minute workout.

He didn't care. Lundqvist motioned to goalie coach Benoit Allaire, who was passing the puck to Wolski and the rest of the shooters, telling him to the other side of the ice so they could continue the drill.

He stopped four more shots before skating away from the crease and eventually off the ice.

There simply was no way Lundqvist was going out on a bad note, not on the final day before the regular season begins, not with his focus squarely set on being at his absolute best.

"It's so different for me to go to Gothenburg. … Now I'm so focused on getting my game going and helping the team to win that I don't focus on the overall experience like it was last week. Now it's about doing your job. I remember this feeling and it's coming over me more and more."
-- Henrik Lundqvist

Lundqvist doesn't so much care about where he is anymore or how much attention he is receiving in his home nation's capital city. Now it's all about what he has to do when the Rangers open the season Friday against the Los Angeles Kings (1 p.m. ET, TSN, Versus) here at Ericsson Globe Arena as part of the 2011 Compuware NHL Premiere.

Everything else is background noise.

"As well as I know him, he's thinking about one thing. He wants to start the season and he's looking forward to it," Rangers coach John Tortorella said of Lundqvist. "The greatest thing about him is how hard he competes, but he wants it to mean something here. I watched him in practice today and he didn't give in on one shot. He's ready to play."

He wasn't a week ago. Lundqvist was far too invested in his emotions during his return trip to Gothenburg to play against his old team.

The Frolunda Indians have meant a great deal to Lundqvist ever since he and twin brother Joel were 5 years old. He played seven seasons in Frolunda's system, winning championships and creating friendships and memories that will last well beyond his years in a Rangers uniform.

Prior to last Friday's game against Frolunda, Lundqvist was honored with roaring standing ovations. He was made an ambassador to the city of Gothenburg.

2011 COMPUWARE NHL PREMIERE

Working out the kinks

Dan Rosen - NHL.com Seinor Writer
After four days of preseason games on international ice and plenty of travel, the players got to practice on a North America-sized rink Wednesday in preparation for Friday's season opener. READ MORE ›
It was all too overwhelming, so much so that getting through the first period perhaps was the greatest challenge he had this preseason.

"It's so different for me to go to Gothenburg. That club has meant a lot to me since I was 5, so it was special in so many ways," Lundqvist said. "Now I'm so focused on getting my game going and helping the team to win that I don't focus on the overall experience like it was last week. Now it's about doing your job. I remember this feeling and it's coming over me more and more."

It's a feeling of intensity, of pressure and of preparing himself physically and mentally to backstop what he believes has the potential to be the best team he's been on since arriving in New York in 2005.

Lundqvist likes the makeup of his team, especially with the additions of Brad Richards and Mike Rupp. He feels their time has come.

"I remember my first years, it was a pretty good team," Lundqvist said. "But I'm hoping this will be the best year so far. I definitely think we have the possibility here to have a good year."

Lundqvist is one of the few goalies in the League that single-handedly can make that happen.

His focus and intensity since arriving in Stockholm suggests he's ready to do it if that's what the Rangers need from him.

"He has certainly ramped it up here to prepare himself," Tortorella said. "Our goalies suffered a bit also in the amount of non-practice time, so Hank has taken a lot of shots and you can tell he's ready to go."

Follow Dan Rosen on Twitter at: @drosennhl
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