- Associated Press - Thursday, October 6, 2011

STOCKHOLM (AP) - If the Los Angeles Kings think Henrik Lundqvist will be off his game at home in Sweden when the New York Rangers begin the NHL season, they could be sorely mistaken.

Just ask Rangers coach John Tortorella, who watched his star goalie practice Thursday, one day before the regular-season opener against the Kings.

“He didn’t give in on one shot,” Tortorella said. “He has certainly ramped it up here to prepare himself.”

Lundqvist has been the center of attention leading up to Friday’s game in the Swedish capital, part of the NHL’s annual European tour. New York will face Anaheim on Saturday in Stockholm.

After getting a hero’s welcome for a preseason game against his former club, Frolunda, in Goteborg last week, Lundqvist was again swarmed by a throng of journalists in the locker room after Thursday’s practice.

The crowd at the Globe Arena is likely to give Lundqvist another overwhelming reception on Friday.

“Of course, I know there’s going to be some tension coming back to Sweden to play, but … when the game starts you don’t really think about where you are,” Lundqvist said. “I feel really good about starting. I’m excited.”

The Kings are well aware they will be facing a goalie with something to prove and that they won’t have the crowd behind them, even though it is technically a Los Angeles home game.

Lundqvist is a premier goalie in the league,” Kings coach Terry Murray said. “We’re going to have to make sure that we get people in his face, in his eyes. If he’s able to see that puck from wherever it’s being shot, then he’s going to be able to stop it.”

The Rangers and the Kings are coming off first-round playoff eliminations, and both teams have made key acquisitions to try to make deeper postseason runs in the spring.

New York is counting on center Brad Richards to power the top line alongside top scorer Marian Gaborik. Richards, the prized player in this year’s free-agent market, signed a nine-year, $60 million deal with the Rangers.

Los Angeles bolstered its offense by making a big trade to acquire Philadelphia captain Mike Richards and signing his former Flyers teammate, Simon Gagne, who spent last season with the Tampa Bay Lightning.

Richards and Gagne are expected to boost the scoring punch, especially when the Kings have a man advantage.

“Every season you know your role. We play on the first two lines and on the power play,” Gagne said of himself and Richards. “For sure scoring some goals and get on the scoring sheet.”

But if anyone on the Kings‘ roster is likely to feel pressure, it is 21-year-old Drew Doughty, who became one of the league’s top paid defensemen after signing an eight-year, $56 million contract last week.

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