The bar has been raised for the New York Rangers, and goaltender Henrik Lundqvist couldn’t be happier.
“I just like the feeling to expect, to expect more out of everybody on the team,” Lundqvist told the NHL.com. “When I got here some years ago I think a lot of people were hoping and were not really sure, but with this year, I hope we continue building, and that’s to expect more out of everybody, to want to be a top team. To be that you have to push yourself hard, because it’s not just going to happen.
“Everybody had a fun year, but we need to come back and try to be even better because we came up short.”
Although the Rangers’ roster could still use some work over the summer, there’s certainly plenty of reasons for them to be optimistic after making it all the way to the Eastern Conference finals. Lundqvist posted two shutouts in their final series against the New Jersey Devils, but they ultimately lost in six games.
“I can only speak for myself; it motivates me a lot to work on my game and come back, try to be even better,” Lundqvist said. “Just to get a taste of it, it’s exciting, but at the same time we didn’t reach the ultimate goal, we didn’t get to where we want to be. But to get a taste of it, I think it’s good for the future.”
It’s hard to see Lundqvist getting much better. He’s already a Vezina Trophy nominee. If anything the Rangers need to do more offensively.
Getting another star forward like Rich Nash would be an appealing solution, but Mark Messier thinks that the key is to add depth. Either way, they’re building on a superb foundation in Lundqvist.
Will Artem Panarin‘s overwhelming success in the KHL translate to North America? The 23-year-old forward has a lot to prove, but his first big test was a success.
Playing on a line with Patrick Kane and Artem Anisimov, Panarin made his preseason debut in Chicago’s finale on Saturday. He registered two assists while giving his teammates reason to be optimistic about him.
“For not being on the ice he looks really relaxed. He’s great with the puck, has nice moves and I think we’ll see a lot of this,” Marian Hossa told CSN Chicago. “He has unbelievable skill. People here in Chicago are going to have a good time watching this guy dangling.”
Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville was impressed by Panarin as well and liked that line as a whole.
The fact that the trio seemed to hit it off quickly has to come as a relief after an upper-body injury prevented Panarin from getting the most out of this year’s training camp. At the end of the day though, the fact that he was able to at least get in one preseason contest is a big silver lining. How smoothly his adjustment goes from here is still a big X-factor, but at least now he’s going into the regular season with a better idea of what to expect.
Panarin is attempting to establish himself in the NHL after leading the KHL’s SKA St. Petersburg to a championship last year. He was the team’s scoring leader, topping ex-NHL star Ilya Kovalchuk.
There was stiff competition for the backup goaltending job in Boston, but with a signing this afternoon, it seems likely that the matter has been resolved.
The Boston Bruins announced that Jonas Gustavsson has agreed to a one-year, $700,000 deal. It’s a one-way contract, according to the Boston Globe’s Amalie Benjamin.
That contract is still small enough that the Bruins could bury it in the minors if they so desire, but it does set him apart from his last competitor for the goalie position, Jeremy Smith, who has a two-way deal. The fact that Boston went this route seems to imply that Gustavsson will serve as Tuukka Rask‘s understudy, although both netminders attended Sunday’s practice.
In Smith, the Bruins would be getting a 26-year-old goaltender who was dominant with the AHL’s Providence Bruins last season, but has no NHL experience. By contrast Gustavsson, 30, has played in almost 150 NHL games.
Boston sent Zane McIntyre and Malcolm Subban to the minors last week, but an argument could be made that either one of them is worthy of the backup job. However, both of them have a lot of potential and it’s not surprising that the Bruins felt they were better served by staying in the minors where they can play regularly and focus on honing their game.