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Lundqvist healthy, set for Rangers training camp

Goalie skating after recovering from knee injury sustained at IIHF World Championship in May

by Tom Gulitti @TomGulittiNHL / Staff Writer

STOCKHOLM -- Back on the ice after recovering from a knee injury, New York Rangers goaltender Henrik Lundqvist can already feel his competitive juices beginning to flow as he prepares for the start of training camp on Sept. 15 and his 13th NHL season.

"I've been skating a few times now and I feel good," Lundqvist said Thursday during the European Player Media Tour. "Obviously, I have some work ahead of me, but it's a similar feeling. … When you step on the ice, that's the time for me when I really ramp it up and increase the workload, and I enjoy that."

After sustaining a Grade 1 MCL sprain in his left knee while helping Sweden win the gold medal at the 2017 IIHF World Championship, Lundqvist, 35, said he is healthy and resumed skating at the time he normally does during the offseason. Now he's going through his usual routine to get ready for the season.

"You need a few weeks to feel comfortable, but that's just part of the process," he said. "It's been like that almost every year. You just take it step by step."

Lundqvist said he was injured in the final 20 seconds of Sweden's 4-1 win against Finland in the World Championship semifinals in Cologne, Germany, on May 20.

"I got stuck in the ice when I tried to go to my right and my knee was still on my left side, and it kind of overextended a little bit," Lundqvist said.

After getting an acupuncture treatment and pain-numbing injection, Lundqvist said he was in some pain over the second half of the gold-medal game the following day. Still, he made 42 saves and stopped all four shootout attempts in Sweden's 2-1 victory against Canada.

Having sustained a similar injury to his knee earlier in his career, Lundqvist was confident it wasn't something more serious, which was confirmed after he returned to New York and was checked out by the Rangers medical staff.

"I was going back to New York anyways, so we did a checkup and put a plan together," he said. "I feel good. The first few weeks after, you don't do much. You just rest it and then you start some rehab."

Despite the injury, Lundqvist said he "absolutely loved" winning the gold medal with his twin brother, Joel, who was Sweden's captain, and believes the experience gave him a positive to build on after a disappointing season with the Rangers that ended with a six-game loss to the Ottawa Senators in the Eastern Conference Second Round.

"It was really nice," he said. "Even though we lost in New York and it was disappointing, to go and finish the season the way I did with Sweden I think it's going to help me going into this year."

Lundqvist will look to rebound from a subpar 2016-17 season when he went 31-20-4 with an NHL career-high 2.74 goals-against average, a career-low .910 save percentage and two shutouts. Lundqvist said consistency was his biggest problem.

"The highs were as high as any other year. The lows were a little too low," he said. "But I also had a lot of stretches where I felt like I was right there, I was playing the way I can play and should play and need to play. But, obviously, when you're a starting goalie, you can't have too many bumps because then that will affect the overall feeling, the overall rating, I think."

The Rangers will have a different look after trading center Derek Stepan and backup goalie Antti Raanta to the Arizona Coyotes and buying out the remaining three seasons on defenseman Dan Girardi's contract this offseason. Girardi had been with the Rangers since 2006-07, Lundqvist's second NHL season.

"It's going to be strange," Lundqvist said. "I've seen that guy for 11 years and he is a guy you always know what you're getting and he was so committed to playing a certain style in front of me, of course I'm going to miss him on the ice and especially off the ice. But it's part of the game and also I'm excited to get to know the new guys and see what they can bring and hopefully help us take it to the next level here."

Among the new players are defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk and backup goaltender Ondrej Pavelec, who each signed with the Rangers as an unrestricted free agent. Shattenkirk, a native of New Rochelle, New York, is expected to slot into the top defense pair alongside Ryan McDonagh and run the first power-play unit from the point.

"I haven't played a lot against him but from the few games I have played against him, he's definitely a guy who can move the puck and he's a smart player and I've heard a lot of good things about him," Lundqvist said. "He's a New York guy too. He's very excited to get this opportunity."

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