Happy Birthday, Henrik Lundqvist, who doesn’t feel any different Wednesday.
Henrik Lundqvist turned 34 years old Wednesday, and though the goaltender continues to play at a high level, it’s fair to wonder how much longer the Rangers’ championship window will be open with Lundqvist another year older.
Thirty-four isn’t young for pro athletes, but Lundqvist says he only thinks about his window when asked about it, which he was Wednesday, and he doesn’t seem to think it’s closing anytime soon.
“I feel as motivated (and) energized as I did 10 years ago to play this game, to try to be better, to help the team win,” said Lundqvist, looking dapper in a dark suit, white shirt and white tie as he spoke at the unveiling of Sweden’s World Cup of Hockey roster after the Rangers practiced in Greenburgh ahead of Thursday’s game in Pittsburgh.
“I think that’s where it starts for all of us players. How much do you want it? How much do you want to work to improve as a player? And I feel that as much today as, like I said, 10 years ago.
“So I don’t feel that old,” he continued with a smile. “I feel like I’m in the stage of my career right now where I’m having a lot of fun, but I also appreciate a lot about the game and where I’m at.”
Alain Vigneault said Lundqvist’s statistics “speak for themselves” and noted how some goalies excel into their 40s. He also believes Lundqvist has improved his puck skills by working with goalie coach Benoit Allaire each year during Vigneault’s tenure as Rangers coach, which began with the 2013-14 season.
“Everybody talks about Henrik getting older and the window of using him at his best,” Vigneault said. “I’ve been here three years; I don’t see any decline, and all I see really is a goaltender that’s basically getting better.”
Last month, Lundqvist posted an Instagram photo of his twin brother Joel lifting a trophy after his Swedish club team Frolunda won the Champions Hockey League, a competition featuring the top teams in Europe.
“My twin brother Joel just hoisted a big trophy. Growing up as identical twins we always did the same things.. perhaps this is a sign of what’s ahead? 🙂 #WouldBeNice,” Henrik wrote in the photo caption.
If his brother’s glory or Derick Brassard’s confident comments from Monday prove prophetic this season, the window will be considered a success, no matter when it ends.
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Vigneault said Rick Nash (left-leg bone bruise) “should be back with the team” within the next 10-to-14 days. … Jesper Fast (flu) didn’t practice Wednesday and won’t travel to Pittsburgh and Washington. The Rangers probably will make an emergency recall. Vigneault said “as of now” Marek Hrivik would be the top choice, but GM Jeff Gorton was set to watch AHL Hartford’s game Wednesday night. The team is high on Nicklas Jensen, whom it acquired for Emerson Etem in January. … New acquisition Eric Staal practiced at center with Oscar Lindberg at LW and Kevin Hayes at RW. … Norwegian Mats Zuccarello was named to Team Europe’s World Cup roster. … J.T. Miller was named to the North American Young Guns roster.
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