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Lundqvist sees potential, believes in what Rangers are building

Goalie confident New York is close to becoming playoff contender

by Dan Rosen @drosennhl / NHL.com Senior Writer

GREENBURGH, N.Y. -- Henrik Lundqvist won't use the word rebuild, even if that's exactly what the New York Rangers are doing. He won't say retool or restock or even simply building.

The Rangers' veteran goalie believes words like that can lead to excuses for taking the focus off winning, which really is all that matters to him.

And not just winning, but winning with the only NHL team he has played for.

"I see the potential," Lundqvist said. "I want to believe that we can be a winning team. I really believe we can. I think we can make it to the (Stanley Cup) Playoffs. I think we have a good enough team."

Lundqvist, the Rangers all-time leader in games played by a goalie (816), wins (433) and shutouts (63), is in an interesting position at this point in his career. At 36 years old and with a contract that expires after the 2020-21 season, he wants to win now.

The Rangers, though, are trying to set the foundation now to build a championship team for the future.

But Lundqvist isn't asking for a trade. He doesn't want to leave. He's all in with the Rangers, and he said it isn't challenging or difficult for him to be all in.

The Rangers, who play the Los Angeles Kings at Staples Center on Sunday (3:30 p.m. ET; FS-W, MSG, NHL.TV), are 3-6-1 with one win in regulation. But Lundqvist has noticed one thing through the first 10 games.

Video: NYR@CHI: Lundqvist makes great pad save on Kane

"We're close," he said.

Lundqvist feels that way even though the Rangers aren't winning despite his solid play, including a 2.61 goals-against average and .920 save percentage in eight games.

"We're getting there," he said. "We're doing so many good things that it's obviously disappointing not to win more games. I think we're playing well enough to win games, it's just we're one or two plays away from winning. We just have to stay the course and stay confident and I think we're going to improve as we play more games."

Lundqvist is confident it can happen in part because he believes in the Rangers' new coaching staff, led by first-year NHL coach David Quinn.

Benoit Allaire, the Rangers' longtime goaltending coach, the only goaltending coach Lundqvist has had in the NHL, is the only member of the coaching staff who was retained from the previous regime.

"I really like the way [Quinn] communicates with the players and the way he discusses things," Lundqvist said. "He's very open to discuss things with the players."

They have had several discussions about the team, with Quinn relying on Lundqvist because of the experience the goalie has and the respect he carries in the dressing room, to give him feedback.

Quinn said he typically leaves goalies alone, lets them be in their own world. But with Lundqvist it's different, and he can't and won't do that.

Video: CGY@NYR: Lundqvist stones Dube with his pad

"He's been so supportive," Quinn said. "Not only has he played great, he's just been everything you could ask for from your best player: Coachable, fully on board, and he gives me a pretty good insight of what is going on with the team. We're certainly seeing things the same way."

Which also is to say they each have measured expectations, which for Lundqvist is not normal. He typically goes into every season thinking the Rangers should challenge for the Stanley Cup. He's been known to let his frustration boil over on the ice when things go awry.

That hasn't happened this season.

He didn't know what to expect when he arrived for training camp last month, but so far he's been more goalie and coach than goalie and critic.

"You can't have the same expectation on this team as we had five years ago," Lundqvist said. "You can't. You want to win every night and you try to do everything you can in preparation and during the game, but you have to have a realistic expectation so you don't beat up yourself too much. You've got to see the good parts, see the improvements we're making, and I hope we can start winning here and start feeling good."

He thinks they can. He wants to start expecting that they will.

It's why Lundqvist is all in.

"You've got to believe," he said.

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