Henrik Lundqvist played in two Game 7s and lost an elimination game in overtime during last season's Stanley Cup Playoffs. But the New York Rangers goaltender said the most difficult period he played was in a preseason game in his native Sweden last season.
"That first period was probably the toughest period I ever played," Lundqvist said Wednesday in an interview with Blueshirts United. "I was just thinking about all the years I played there."
The Rangers defeated Frolunda, Lundqvist's former club, 4-2 on Sept. 30 in Gothenburg as part of the NHL Premiere Challenge.
Lundqvist played in Frolunda from 1998 through 2005.
"You know, growing up, that was the club I wanted to play for," Lundqvist said. "It was my dream to play there, I won two championships there. And so many people helped me there, too, to reach my next level.
"And obviously, to have my brother there and my family there, it was a great moment in my career."
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During the game, Lundqvist saluted the crowd that was chanting his name, in the way he used to.
"I always did that playing in Frolunda," Lundqvist said. "... Playing there, they always want this connection, and during the game I'd wave or I jumped -- it was a thing.
"Actually, I even hear this at the[Madison Square] Garden. I here Swedes scream, 'Henrik, to jump!' It's kind of fun.
"It's in my past. I don't do it anymore, but actually my first game at the Garden, when I hear the crowd scream my name, I wave, because that's what I've always been doing. It's just a reaction, and I wave to acknowledge the support."
The Rangers opened the regular season in Stockholm against the Los Angeles Kings and the Anaheim Ducks. Lundqvist suffered an overtime loss and a shootout loss in those games, but went on to win his first Vezina Trophy after a regular season when he was 39-18-5 with a 1.97 goals-against average and .930 save percentage.
"Going back to Sweden, that was just a real feeling, to be there with the Rangers, and to realize where you are but also where you're coming from -- it's two different worlds and they were meeting," he said.
"And to have my parents there and all our friends, it was just a great start to the year, and from then on there were so many great things happening."
After entering the playoffs as the top seed in the Eastern Conference, the Rangers defeated the Ottawa Senators and Washington Capitals in seven-game series before they were eliminated by the New Jersey Devils in overtime of Game 6 of the Eastern Conference Finals.
"Personally it was a great year, and for the team it was a great year, but it was not enough," Lundqvist said. "I'm still disappointed, thinking back, it bothers me. It bothers me that we lost in the conference final. I thought we had an opportunity to go all the way.
"And that's what motivates me right now, to work harder."