GREENBURGH, N.Y. - Alex Ovechkin guarantees that the Capitals will win Game 7 Wednesday night. When Henrik Lundqvist closes his eyes, he sees the exact opposite.
"You have to see it happen," he said after practice Tuesday. "You have to see good things happen to yourself and your team and then you have to go out there and work for it. It starts with believing and I think when we were in a tough spot this series, we believed that we could force another game and another game and now we're here."
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It's no secret that Lundqvist uses visualization techniques to prepare for games -- if you watch him during the national anthem, Lundqvist will often have his eyes closed, his pads and skates moving left and right, as if the game has already begun. His methods haven't changed much for Game 7, though tensions will be more than heightened. A win Wednesday night means that the Rangers will have accomplished the unlikely feat of advancing after a 3-1 series deficit two years in a row.
How does the goalie visualize Game 7 will be? Nerve-wracking, of course.
But for a player who's made his name in big-game situations -- Lundqvist made 42 saves in the 4-3 win over the Capitals Sunday and all the Rangers' seven wins this postseason have been by one goal -- nerve-wracking can be a good, vital thing. He has, after all, won five straight Game 7s, the last one a win over the Penguins last season. He is 5-1 overall in Game 7s with a 1.00 GAA and a .965 save percentage in those games.
"I always get nervous, every game," he said. "When you go into games where everything is on the line, you feel it a little bit more and it's normal. You have to enjoy that, too. You can't get worked up just because you're more nervous. You enjoy that moment where you feel like, 'This is it.' "
Coach Alain Vigneault called Lundqvist's focus and preparation "by far the best I've ever seen in this game."
And though he admitted to taking a small mental break after the exhausting weekend, it was clear Tuesday that Lundqvist was well into his Game 7 vision quest.
"I see myself in different situations," he said. "I work a lot with that . . . I remind myself what I need to do to have success in my game . . . Now it's just down to going over every little detail, mentally and physically. [I need to] take care of things and get ready for a big, big battle."
It's one the Rangers will win, at least the way he sees it.