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The Five-Minute Interview: HENRIK LUNDQVIST

by Staff Writer / New York Rangers
Goaltender Henrik Lundqvist, who won more games in his first two NHL seasons with the Rangers than any other netminder in team history, has been working out at the Madison Square Garden Training Center in preparation for the Sept. 13 start of the Blueshirts' main training camp.

The two-time Vezina Trophy finalist is one of many Rangers veterans already at the Training Center for informal on-ice and off-ice workouts. On Tuesday, he was joined there by a large group that included Sean Avery, Petr Prucha, Ryan Callahan, Thomas Pock, Dan Girardi, Scott Gomez and Chris Drury, among others.

Lundqvist took time out from his workout regimen for an exclusive five-minute interview.

Rangers goaltender Henrik Lundqvist covers up the puck during an informal, players-only on-ice session at the Madison Square Garden Training Center on Tuesday morning.

Question: Tell us about your summer. Did you spend a lot of time at home in Sweden?

Lundqvist: I stayed in New York until mid-June. Then I went back to Sweden for a few months and spent time with friends and family. I got back here a week ago, and now I'm getting ready.

Q: Are there are a lot of NHL and Rangers fans in Sweden these days? Do people come up to you and talk about the Rangers?

Lundqvist: Yes, they do. They think it's fun, and they're happy that it's been going well for me. Obviously there are lots of Swedes in the NHL, but a lot of people are now following the Rangers, for sure. That's happened.

Q: Anders Hedberg recently rejoined the Rangers organization as a European scout based in Sweden. You and he are two of the best Swedish players in the team's history. How familiar are you with him?

Lundqvist: I met him through the national team when he was working for the national team a few years back. It's great to have him here again. He's obviously done a lot of great things for this organization in the past, so I think it's good to have him as a scout.

Q:  You resumed working out at the MSG Training Center well before the official start of training camp. What are your goals between now and the opening of camp on Sept. 13?

Lundqvist: First you just want to get back here and get your technique back. You're a little rusty the first couple of weeks. You need to skate a lot. It's also fun to see a lot of the guys starting to come back. We just try to work really hard before camp, because we don't have that many weeks to get going before the season starts.

Q: Do you feel you're even more focused going into this season as a result of the strong playoff performance last spring?

Lundqvist: I think a lot of guys are just really excited to be back. The team looks really interesting right now. We've signed up some really good players for this season and I think a lot of guys are excited to get things going here.

Q:  Where were you on July 1 when the Rangers signed Chris Drury and Scott Gomez, and what went through your mind when you heard the news?

Lundqvist: I was back in Sweden, and it was great to hear. I was really happy, because this is good for the team, good for the organization and good for the fans who get to see these two really good players here. It's definitely going to help us improve our team this year and be an even better team.

Q:  Drury scored a very memorable goal against you in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference semifinals last May. Have you talked to him about that now that you're teammates?

Lundqvist: I have talked to him, but we have not talked about that. It will probably come up during the year, at least one or two times. He seems like a great guy, and I know he's a really good player.

Q:  With the new faces and returning veterans, do you feel the team is stronger right now than it was going into the season a year ago?

Lundqvist: I think we're stronger than last year. The team looks very similar to last year, but we just added a couple of really good players. Also, there are some younger guys coming up who look really good. We had expectations last year, too, and we know we just have to do well. It's a lot of hard work. Even though we've got so many good players coming into this season, it's going to be a really tough season because a lot of teams are looking really good out there.

Q:  Last year, the team didn't really take off until the second half of the season. Will there be more pressure to get off to a fast start this time?

Lundqvist: That was last year, and it's hard to predict how the season will be. Our goal right now is just to get ready for the season and Game 1. You don't try to look too far ahead. Obviously, you want to have a good year and prepare for a good playoffs, but that's so far away that right now our focus is just on getting ready for the season.

Q:  This will be your third season with the Rangers. Do you now feel as comfortable in the NHL as you ever did playing in Sweden?

Lundqvist: I guess, if it's really possible to ever feel comfortable. It's a tough game out there for a goalie. You need to perform and win games. You need to help the team all the time, and it takes a lot out of you to stay at the top. It's exciting, though, and I know it's a lot of hard work in front of me to try to be even better this year. It feels good, though. I feel more confident this year and I know what to expect. The first year I was here, I didn't know at all what I was going to get into. Last year, I had a better feeling about it, but this year I really know what's going on around the league and what it means to play in this league. But at the same time, things can change so fast, that you always have to be aware of how hard you have to work just to get ready for a new season.

Look for more five-minute interviews in the coming days, as players share their thoughts on the season ahead.
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