GREENBURGH, N.Y. — There was no red carpet, no swords held high for the return of The King. Nothing needed to be said. The Rangers simply were happy to see goaltender Henrik Lundqvist at practice this past weekend.
Lundqvist, 34, who is entering his 12th season in New York, was anxious to get going after an unusual summer that included taking a couple of weeks off to forget the 2015-16 season (which ended in five games in the first round of the playoffs), then a late July start for skating and training, and playing for Team Sweden in the World Cup.
He played three games that counted, including a shutout of Team Europe and an overtime loss to Team North America in the most exciting game of the tournament, and posted a 2.25 goals-against average and a .940 save percentage. He also played in an exhibition in his hometown of Gothenburg.
“It was a great experience, a lot of fun to be around players like that,” Lundqvist said of the All-Star tournament.
He returned to New York last week and first went on the ice Friday with goaltending coach Benoit Allaire.
“I felt after a few days that I wanted to get going again,” he said. “I felt like I had enough rest. I have another 10 days [before opening night Oct. 13 against the Islanders]; there’s more work to do . . . This definitely feels like home now.”
The next step comes Monday. He’ll start against the Flyers in Philadelphia and split the time with Mackenzie Skapski. Lundqvist is expected to play the entire game Thursday against the Flyers at Madison Square Garden, the Ran gers’ final preseason game.
Playing in the World Cup didn’t change his approach to this training camp, Lundqvist said. It’s not all about technique. “Right now, it’s about focus,” he said. “It’s more about getting used to new players, how they play in certain situations.”
But Lundqvist noted that looking back at last season, when he faced more shots and scoring chances than ever, he needs to improve his consistency.
How many regular-season games Lundqvist will start is undecided. Coach Alain Vig neault said research shows that recent Cup-winning goaltenders started between 50 and 58, and in an ideal world, that’s the range in which Lundqvist would fit. He has started between 62 and 72 in seven seasons since 2007-08.
Vigneault and his goalie haven’t discussed the topic yet, but Lundqvist said Sunday: “I know that [50-to-58] number. We have a number every year in mind, and it’s usually close to that. I’m sure we’ll be on the same page.”