Henrik Lundqvist sitting at the corner stall in Verizon Center’s visiting locker room is a familiar sight, especially in the springtime. Wednesday night will be the New York Rangers goaltender’s eighth playoff game at the Washington Capitals, but his mind isn’t on that history.
“I don’t really think about the history of the games we had this year, or even years before that,” Lundqvist said. “All that matters to me right now is tonight.”
That’s probably for the best. Lundqvist and the Rangers have lost their past five playoff games at the Caps, and the numbers aren’t pretty. He has allowed 13 goals in those five losses for a 2.66 goals-against average and .888 save percentage. The Hart and Vezina Trophy finalist was even yanked after giving up four goals on 14 shots in two periods in Game 5 of the teams’ 2009 first round series, in favor of Stephen Valiquette.
During his playoff career at Verizon Center (seven games), Lundqvist is 2-5 with a 2.32 GAA and .914 save percentage.
He played in just one of New York’s two visits during this regular season, winning Nov. 25 when allowing three goals on 21 shots.
“It’s a tough building, and they’re a good team. especially at home they play well,” Lundqvist said. “But we feel good, we feel confident. We know what we have to do.”
Before this series started, the Caps talked about what they needed to beat the gold medal-winning goaltender, aside from traffic.
“You need a good look at a perfect shot, to be honest with you. I think he’s that good,” right wing Troy Brouwer said. “All the goals that are scored on him are with traffic or second opportunities. That’s got to be the main focus of how we’re going to have to score goals.”
Brouwer set the perfect screen on Lundqvist on Alex Ovechkin’s Game 2-winning goal, but the goalie didn’t notice more bodies in front than in Game 1.
“No, not really. I expect to have a lot of traffic, a lot of people in front of me,” Lundqvist said. “In the playoffs you try to get more bodies in front and create chances from just rebounds and throwing pucks in there. I just expect that will be part of my game and part of their strategy as well.”