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Lundqvist Closes Dominant 2004-05 Season with Title

by Staff Writer / New York Rangers


Swedish Elite League Finals - Series Box Scores >>

On Monday evening, Henrik Lundqvist picked up his sixth shutout of the post-season, matching his shutout total for the entire regular season in posting a 1-0 overtime victory over Farjestads BK in Game Five of the Swedish Elite League Finals. The win was also momentous for another reason ... it helped the Frölunda Indians capture the Swedish Elite League championship for the second time in three years.

Lundqvist's play between the pipes in 2004-05 was simply remarkable, as he finished the regular season and approached the playoffs ranking among the Swedish Elite League goaltending leaders in several categories, including: wins (33, first), save percentage (.936, first), goal against average (1.79, first), shutouts (six, first), minutes played (2641:51, second), and saves (1145, third). He also went an astounding 15 games during the regular season without a loss, posting a sparkling 13-0-2 slate from December 28 through March 1.

As if his play during the regular season wasn't stellar enough, Lundqvist elevated his game to another level in the playoffs. After sweeping Lulea in the First Round, Lundqvist and Frölunda went on to discard of Djurgardens - one of the league's premiere teams over the years - in just five games. After advancing to the championship to face Farjestads BK, they dropped the first game before taking the next four to claim the title.

Following Frölunda's 4-2 loss in Game One of the Finals, Lundqvist allowed just one goal in the next four games, with three of his wins coming via shutout. His numbers during the post-season were some of the most dominant statistics ever produced by a goaltender in a single playoff year. In 14 games he charted a record of 12-2. The Swedish netminder stopped 376 of 391 shots over the span, giving him a save percentage of .962. With six shutouts, Lundqvist posted a miniscule goals against average of just 1.05. He also turned aside 30-or-more shots on six occasions, adding to the 13 times he had done so during the regular season.

Lundqvist's play this year can be categorized as sheer dominance, as teams deemed it nearly impossible to beat him at times. Rangers brass has certainly taken notice of the goaltender's accomplishments.

"In Henrik's case he had a terrific year in 2003-04 and joined Sweden's World Championship team," noted Rangers Assistant General Manager and VP of Player Personnel Don Maloney. "He played in all of the tournament games but lost in the Finals to Canada, which was a bit of a stumble for him. But for him to come back and not only to have the regular season he had but to have an unbelievable playoff run and lead his team to the title the way he did is incredibly promising. Now, he will be the starting goaltender for the Swedish team at this year's World Championship later this month."

"Really, what I really like to see is players that get better ever year," Maloney added. "Henrik is a very young goalie who is not a 27 or 28-year old guy. He is only 23 and has a tremendous future and a tremendous upside. I know that Glen (Sather) is going over to see him at the World Championship in a few weeks and hopefully we will get him in a Rangers uniform soon."
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