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By Dan David, newyorkrangers.com
Rangers fans have known about goaltender Henrik Lundqvist
’s All-Star attributes for the past four seasons, but now, for the first time, the NHL has recognized Lundqvist as an All-Star, too.
The Blueshirts goalie will be the team’s lone representative at the 2009 NHL All-Star Game on Jan. 25 in Montreal. The NHL added Lundqvist and 15 other players to the Eastern Conference team on Thursday, following last week’s announcement of the starting lineups selected by fans.
Because the six starting spots were taken up by players from only two teams – Pittsburgh and Montreal – the NHL had to fill the remaining 15 spots with players from the 13 other Eastern Conference teams. Boston picked up both of the additional spots, getting three players into the game. Each of the other 12 teams placed one player in the lineup.
Lundqvist will play in either the second or third period of the Jan. 25 game, since the starting role has already been reserved for Montreal's Carey Price, who was voted into the role by fans. Lundqvist will also participate in the SuperSkills competition on Jan. 24, which kicks off the All-Star Weekend. In that event, he will be called on to stop all kinds of shots by the Western All-Stars.
A member of Sweden’s 2006 Olympic gold-medal winners, Lundqvist will be getting his first taste of NHL All-Star action, although he did participate in one All-Star Game during his years in the Swedish Elite League. In Montreal, he will share goaltending duties with Price and Boston’s Tim Thomas.
"It's a great honor to be in the All-Star Game," said Lundqvist. "I haven't been there yet and there are a lot of goaltenders out there who are tough competition, so to make it as a goalie feels really nice."
Asked if he was at all worried about having to face so many talented players in the same game -- especially when All-Star Games tend to be so high-scoring -- Lundqvist cracked a smile.
"As a goalie when you go into an All-Star game, you aren't necessarily going for a shutout," he said. "It's more about enjoying the game and the environment. It's true that some of those games are very open, so you have to realize it's going to be a tough game sometimes, but I think the biggest thing is to enjoy it."
Lundqvist also becomes the first Rangers goaltender named to a mid-season All-Star team since Mike Richter in 2000.
Richter, who appeared in three NHL All-Star Games during his Blueshirts career, played the final period of the North American All-Stars' 9-4 loss to the World All-Stars in the 50th All-Star Game at Toronto. He was also the MVP of the 1994 NHL All-Star Game at Madison Square Garden and is the only Rangers goaltender to win All-Star MVP honors.
It will be up to the Eastern Conference coaching staff -- as yet unannounced -- to decide whether Lundqvist will play in the second or third period, and the Rangers goalie might even have a preference.
"It doesn't matter really, but the third period is probably more fun," he said. "You get the final minutes in there, so it's probably more tense. It doesn't really matter, but if I have to pick, then maybe the third period."
Other Rangers goalies who have competed in the All-Star Game include Chuck Rayner, Gump Worsley, Ed Giacomin and Gilles Villemure. Giacomin enjoyed the most All-Star appearances out of this group, appearing in six games between 1967 and 1973. His final appearance, in the 1973 game at MSG, came when he was added to the team as an injury replacement for Ken Dryden. That enabled Giacomin and Villemure to share the workload for a second time, having also split the goaltending duties in 1971.
Last year, the Rangers were represented at the All-Star Game by center Scott Gomez. The last Rangers player to be named MVP of an All-Star Game was Wayne Gretzky at Tampa in 1999.
The Rangers have a chance to send more players to the Jan. 24-25 All-Star Weekend when the YoungStars Game rosters are announced on Friday. Last year, both Marc Staal
and Brandon Dubinsky
played in the YoungStars game, with Dubinsky winning MVP honors. Both players could be going back this year, since the format has been changed to include second-year NHL players.
Here is a look at Rangers goaltenders who have played in the All-Star Game.
|RANGERS GOALTENDERS IN NHL ALL-STAR GAMES |
|Year ||Player ||Team ||Location ||Final Score ||Min. ||GA ||SV ||W-L ||Notes |
|2009 ||Henrik Lundqvist ||Eastern Conf. ||Montreal || || || || || || |
|2000 ||Mike Richter ||N. America ||Toronto ||World 9, N. America 4 ||20:00 ||4 ||11 ||-- ||Played entire third period. |
|1994 ||Mike Richter ||Eastern Conf. ||MSG ||Eastern 9, Western 8 ||20:00 ||2 ||17 ||-- ||MVP. Played entire second period. |
|1992 ||Mike Richter ||Wales Conf. ||Philadelphia ||Campbell 10, Wales 6 ||20:00 ||2 ||13 ||-- ||Played entire third period. |
|1973 ||Gilles Villemure ||East Conf. ||MSG ||East 5, West 4 ||29:16 ||1 ||n/a ||-- ||Played first half of game. |
| ||Ed Giacomin || || || ||30:44 ||3 ||n/a ||Win ||Played second half of game. |
|1972 ||Gilles Villemure ||East Conf. ||Minnesota ||East 3, West 2 ||29:26 ||0 ||n/a ||Win ||No. 3 Star. Played second half of game. |
|1971 ||Ed Giacomin ||East Conf. ||Boston ||West 2, East 1 ||31:00 ||2 ||n/a ||Loss ||Played first half of game. |
| ||Gilles Villemure || || || ||29:00 ||0 ||n/a ||-- ||Played second half of game. |
|1970 ||Ed Giacomin ||East Conf. ||St. Louis ||East 4, West 1 ||30:00 ||1 ||n/a ||Win ||Played first half of game. |
|1969 ||Ed Giacomin ||East Conf. ||Montreal ||East 3, West 3 ||40:00 ||2 ||18 ||-- ||Played first two periods. |
|1968 ||Ed Giacomin ||NHL All-Stars ||Toronto ||Toronto 4, All-Stars 3 ||20:00 ||1 ||8 ||-- ||Played first period. |
|1967 ||Ed Giacomin ||NHL All-Stars ||Montreal ||Montreal 3, All-Stars 0 ||30:00 ||1 ||n/a ||-- ||Played second half of game. |
|1962 ||Gump Worsley ||NHL All-Stars ||Toronto ||Toronto 4, All-Stars 1 ||20:00 ||0 ||14 ||-- ||Played third period. |
|1961 ||Gump Worsley ||NHL All-Stars ||Chicago ||All-Stars 3, Chicago 1 ||30:00 ||0 ||12 ||-- ||Played second half of game. |
|1951 ||Chuck Rayner ||All-Star 2nd Team ||Toronto ||1st Team 2, 2nd Team 2 ||29:28 ||1 ||n/a ||-- ||Played first half of game. |
|1950 ||Chuck Rayner ||NHL All-Stars ||Detroit ||Detroit 7, All-Stars 1 ||31:12 ||3 ||n/a ||Loss ||Played first half of game. |
|1949 ||Chuck Rayner ||NHL All-Stars ||Toronto ||All-Stars 3, Toronto 1 ||31:30 ||0 ||n/a ||Win ||Played second half of game. |