-- While kids probably don't dream about being the hero of the first game of the season -- they dream about the last game, the Stanley Cup Final -- playing in front of Swedish fans in Gothenburg and Stockholm was a dream come true for Henrik Lundqvist
, the New York Rangers
' Swedish goaltender.
His Rangers played an exhibition game last week against the Frolunda Indians, Lundqvist's former club in Sweden, with which he won the Swedish title in 2003 and 2005. After stops in Bratislava, Slovakia and Zug, Switzerland, the Rangers returned to Sweden on Wednesday when they arrived in Stockholm and started preparing for their two Compuware NHL Premiere games in the Globe Arena.
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"Every city we've been to have left their mark on us. We had players on the team who had never been to Europe before. For me, it's been a special trip with a lot of emotions," Lundqvist said.
Even as Lundqvist tried to keep his cool and take every game as it came, returning to the arenas in Sweden made his heart beat a little faster.
"I will never forget the night in Gothenburg, or these two in Stockholm," Lundqvist said.
"It was difficult not to think back at my life, where I've been, where I'm now, how I played in Gothenburg, or in this Stockholm arena for the first time as an 18-year-old kid. It was a fantastic feeling, and I'd like to thank all the people who came to the game in Sweden and created that atmosphere," he added.
Following Saturday's 2-1 shootout loss to Anaheim, Rangers coach John Tortorella was looking forward to getting his team back to New York and getting some good practices under their belt. While the trip had been a memorable one, Lundqvist also was ready to return to New York.
With Madison Square Garden under renovation, the Rangers won't play their first home game until Oct. 27, but they will get some time off before their next game -- they don't play until Oct. 15, when they visit Long Island before heading to Western Canada for four more games.
"It's been a fun trip, but very intense, and the group of guys going home is a tired one. Fortunately, we get to spend some time in the New York region before we head to Western Canada. We need the rest, and some good practices," Lundqvist said.
Starting Oct. Oct. 18, the Rangers will play four games in seven days on their tour through Vancouver, Calgary, Edmonton, and Winnipeg.
All in all, Lundqvist was happy with the tour of Europe.
"There are always pros and cons, and you can argue either way if it's good or bad for the team, but I think this has been fun," he said. "Besides, the last three Stanley Cup champions have started their seasons in Europe, so we'll try to keep the streak going."