Experts break down what makes Lundqvist special

by Jeff D'Alessio /

He's the No. 1 attraction on the Eastern Conference's No. 1 team, as much the king of New York these days as Carl XVI Gustaf is back home in Sweden.

So what's next for the Rangers' puck-stopping, guitar-strumming goalie, Henrik Lundqvist?

With the postseason and awards season approaching, we turned to 10 experts to gaze into their crystal balls and break down what makes His Highness so special.

Q: Since 1962, just two goalies have been honored with the Hart Trophy (Montreal's Jose Theodore in 2002 and Buffalo's Dominik Hasek in 1997 and '98). Should Lundqvist's name be at the top -- or, given Evgeni Malkin's superb season, at least near the top -- of this year's MVP voting?

Henrik Lundqvist
Henrik Lundqvist
Goalie - NYR
RECORD: 39-17-5
GAA: 1.93 | SVP: 0.931

Doug Weight, four-time All-Star former center: I would have: 1) Malkin -- he played at a consistent and extraordinary level all season and led Pittsburgh to a great season without (Sidney) Crosby; 2) (Lightning center Steven) Stamkos -- dynamic, committed and a big-game player … but no playoffs; 3) Lundqvist -- nothing against the Rangers, but he truly took this team on his back and carried them. He changes the way a team performs in front of him and the way a team plays against them.

Brian Propp, five-time All-Star former left wing: I think Lundqvist should be considered. He has carried the Rangers this year, when the League is at a much higher-scoring pace. There are tons of power plays against and he still is in the top three for all categories for goalies. And he helped the Rangers win the conference title.

Q: Lundqvist is enjoying the best season of his seven-year NHL career. What have you been most impressed with this season?

Tom Laidlaw, former Rangers fan favorite: He is just plain cool -- on and off the ice. He is one of those rare players that makes his teammates feel more confident.

Jim Craig, 1980 gold medal-winning Olympic goalie: When I watch him play, I see a person who is fully prepared, with self-confidence that his team believes in. What I love about him is his athleticism and his ability to withstand the pressure of playing in New York City.

Q: Which former great does Lundqvist remind you of? We say Henrik, you say …

John Garrett, former Whalers, Nordiques and Canucks goalie: Olaf Kolzig from the 1997-98 Capitals. That year, Ollie looked so big that the shooters had nothing to shoot at.

Darren Elliot, former Kings goalie: Lundqvist has the wide-based stance reminiscent of Blackhawks great Tony Esposito in the '70s. He plays deeper than anyone in today's game, guarding the goal line like Felix Potvin did for the Maple Leafs in the '90s. He battles and competes like all the greats of any era. In today's game, it all adds up to Lundqvist being the best goalie in the world.

Jacques Cloutier, former Sabres, Blackhawks and Nordiques goalie: Eddie Belfour. "Eddie the Eagle" showed poise, quickness and patience reading and anticipating the play.

Mike Greenlay, former Oilers goalie: My perspective comes from my days around Grant Fuhr. Even though there is no resemblance to goaltending style, it goes to the trust and confidence that the Oilers felt about playing a goalie that always was ready and always gave them the chance for victory. Lundqvist does that for the Rangers.

Q: Prediction time. How far will Lundqvist carry the Rangers in this year's playoffs?

Gary Green, NHL Network analyst: If he is totally healthy, he can carry them all the way to a Cup win -- he's that good. His team plays a sound, structured game defensively in front of him and, as his rival Marty Brodeur will tell you from past experiences, that can translate into a Stanley Cup.

Keith Jones, NHL on NBC analyst: Henrik is having his best year as a pro, and I don't see it coming to an end anytime soon. He's won playoff series in the past, and this year he has a team in front of him that is good enough to challenge for the Cup. Look for King Henrik to take the Rangers at least into the conference final and possibly the Stanley Cup Finals.