COLUMBUS, Ohio — This was a work day for Henrik Lundqvist, but one in which the goaltender could decompress two days after recording career victory 400 at the Garden on Saturday against the Avalanche to complete a string of 11 consecutive starts in the style everyone has been accustomed to over the King’s 12-year Broadway reign.
“It was a pretty intense week with a lot of action in every game, so while I want to play every game, it will be nice to get a night off,” Lundqvist, who started four games over the Blueshirts’ eight-day homestand sweep and six over the last 11 days, said before the Blueshirts’ 3-2 victory over the Blue Jackets on Monday.
Lundqvist, who was on the ice for 45 minutes in the morning with healthy scratches Brandon Pirri, Matt Puempel and Adam Clendening (and for about 20 minutes with Dan Girardi, who tested his ankle for before pronouncing himself good to go after having missed the prior two games), said he had remained at the Garden for almost two hours after becoming the 12th goaltender in NHL history to hit the milestone.
“I soaked it all in. It was a great moment for me,” Lundqvist said. “And I also had a lot of text messages so it took time to answer my buddies.
“The love from the fans was very special to me. That never gets old.”
Speaking of which, as you may have heard, Lundqvist turns 35 on March 2. He has adapted to growing older, indeed dropping 14 to 18 pounds from the 198 at which he played for the first six or seven years of his career.
“There are times where I’m at 180 now,” said the goaltender, 9-1/.939/.201 over his last 11 starts and 26-13-1/.911/2.68 on the year. “I can feel it; I’m a lot quicker. I think being lighter helps me now and will help me going forward.”
Lundqvist’s contract runs through 2020-21, his age 38/39 season. Dominik Hasek, his boyhood idol, played in the NHL until he was 43. Jaromir Jagr, his teammate on Broadway for the first three years of his career, will celebrate his 45th birthday on Wednesday in San Jose when his Panthers play the Sharks.
“He just has so much passion for the game. And he’s always working on his game, he’s always looking to improve in some way,” Lundqvist said. “Mentally, to be able to do that, you have to love the game.”
Lundqvist is one win behind Chris Osgood and three behind Grant Fuhr. He is nine behind Glenn Hall, who sits ninth in all-time victories. It is conceivable for Lundqvist to be in the low-to-mid 500s at the end of his contract, with perhaps only Patrick Roy (551) and Martin Brodeur (691) in front of him.
“I do love the game and everything that goes with it,” Lundqvist said. “I love the travel, the life, and being part of a team. And I love to compete where you get to measure yourself against the best players in the world.”
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