We got a chance to interview Henrik Lundqvist thanks to his media tour with fast acting Advil. Here's the story.
Henrik Lundqvist's career has been marked by consistency and success. Since he entered the league in 2006, Lundqvist has been near the top of every goaltending statistic each year, and has led the Rangers to the playoffs in five of his six seasons.
But when the puck dropped for his seventh campaign, the script wasn't quite the same for the Rangers' netminder.
"Parts of my start was one of my bigger challenges I've faced throughout my career in terms of staying consistent, and believing in what I was doing," Lundqvist said in an interview with SB Nation. "But at the same time, you learn from it, and I've been working really hard to try to reach the level where I feel I should be."
It wasn't only Lundqvist who struggled out of the gate, but the way he opened the season may have been the most puzzling. He lost five of his first seven starts, before sitting out two games with an undisclosed injury. And Lundqvist said his struggles began before that setback occurred.
"There were a couple of reasons; I kind of got away from my game a little bit," said the 31-year-old, who was a healthy scratch for three consecutive games this season for the first time since his rookie year. "Even in the preseason—I didn't really get going during the preseason, and then we had a really tough schedule out West early on playing really good teams."
His decreased playing time was a factor of his own performance—admittedly—and a surge from backup Cam Talbot.
"He's been around for a few years, so we know each other," Lundqvist said of Talbot. "He works hard in practice, and he's a calm guy. It's been a great relationship."
As Lundqvist worked to re-find his form, he said having another goalie performing so well only motivated him to push harder.
"Even though I had some great years behind me, it's about here and now, and it's about helping the team to have a chance to win every night," said Lundqvist. "It's up to me to prove that I can be that guy, and I think lately, I've been at a level where I feel like I should be."
To the former Vezina winner's credit, and to the delight of the Rangers, his play is regressing toward what he's consistently provided for New York year-in and year-out. While the Rangers were adjusting to a new system under Alain Vigneault, Lundqvist was thought to be one of constants that would anchor the transition.
"Early on, unfortunately, it was an adjustment for a lot of us," said Lundqvist. "The coaches understood the process that even though the results were not great, they showed some patience there and worked with us to really get it going."
Lundqvist said he's enjoyed getting to know Vigneault, as his new coach is easy going and easy to talk to.
"Every time you switch a coach, it's an opportunity to get to know a new guy here, and a new coaching style," said Lundqvist. "Even though things didn't go as I wanted to personally, as for the group, I think he showed some patience there, and it's been fun to have him along."
That patience has paid off, as the Rangers have elevated their game to a point Vigneault and the team's brass expected it to be at.
"Of course, if you play one way for a lot of years and then change things, it's going to take time to get everything working," said Lundqvist. "I think especially the last month or so, our team game has been very good, and we've been winning a lot more."
The turnaround has also coincided with Lundqvist re-finding his form.
"Personally, I feel like things are definitely moving in the right direction," Lundqvist said. "I'm playing my game. I had a stretch when I was watching a lot of tape; I was working really hard to try to get back to basics.
"It's a combination of me raising my game, and the team playing really well, we've had more success."
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