GREENBURGH, N.Y. - If nothing else, Henrik Lundqvist remains confident.
Just three months after losing a hard-fought Game 5 of the Stanley Cup Final in Los Angeles on June 13, and three days from the opening of training camp, the Rangers' standout goaltender believes another deep playoff run is possible this season.
"I don't think we have more pressure this year than last year," Lundqvist said Monday after a 90-minute informal workout. "I think we're a contender. I think we were a contender last year, so you should have the same mind-set: That if you do everything right and you get where your game needs to be and you get the bounces along the way, we can do it . . . Our mind-set's going to be very important when you have a long season. You need to reset and start over."
Since 1997, only four teams have appeared back-to-back in the Final: the Red Wings in 1997 and 1998, the Stars in 1999 and 2000, the Devils in 2000 and 2001, and the Red Wings again in 2008 and 2009.
Last season, the Blueshirts played 25 postseason games, with Lundqvist starting every one and posting a 2.14 goals-against average and a .927 save percentage. In 26 games, Kings goaltender Jonathan Quick had a 2.58 GAA and .911 save percentage, but three more wins.
For weeks, Lundqvist was devastated by the three overtime losses in the Final.
"You try to get away from it, but it's hard not to think about it," he said. "You think about all the missed opportunities, but at the same time, I started to appreciate all the good things we did throughout the year."
Such as the Game 7 wins against the Flyers and Penguins and the Game 6 shutout of the Canadiens that lifted the club to the Final.
The unexpected spring journey, which was the team's most successful in 20 years, will help "not early on, but further down the road," Lundqvist said. "In the beginning, you get back to basics, pay attention to detail. It's going to be a grind. Now you just focus on camp and practice."
With a week to go before the Rangers host the Devils in their first of six preseason games, Lundqvist, 32, acknowledged that he wanted to work on technique during practice. "Mentally, it's more about playing games to get the game focus back."
Lundqvist leads the franchise in career wins (309) and shutouts (50).
In the Rangers' second season under coach Alain Vigneault, Lundqvist anticipates a different feel, one of familiarity.
"For everyone, you know what to expect; it's more comfortable to come in when you know the routine and how he thinks," Lundqvist said. "We did change a lot coming into last year, the way we played in our own end . . . But you constantly have to push yourself. The game's not the same now as it was five or six years ago."