They call him “The King” for a reason.
Henrik Lundqvist, 33, is one of the best goalies in the NHL and the Swedish-born standout not only boasts incredible on-ice stats but an even better off-ice life.
Now, as Lundqvist and the New York Rangers stare down a Game 7 matchup against the Tampa Bay Lightning tonight, the long-time netminder is the focal point of his team’s chances once again. Of course, when you boast the kind of elimination game stats that Lundqvist does, that’s not exactly a bad thing.
Here’s what you need to know about the Blueshirts backbone in net:
1. He Was Born in Sweden in 1982 & Got His Hockey Start With Frölunda HC
Lundqvist grew up in Åre, Jämtland Sweeden, a town better known as a ski resort than any kind of hockey hotbed, with his identical twin brother Joel and it was the natural competitiveness between the two that led both of them to the ice.
The Lundqvist family eventually moved farther south so that Henrik and Joel could join a competitive hockey league and by the time he was 14, Lundqvist began to focus solely on honing his hockey skills.
In 2000, at age 18, Lundqvist was a professional hockey player and made his debut in net on September 21.
He joined the Frölunda Hockey Club, a Swedish Elite League team based in Gothenburg. It wasn’t an easy start. Lundqvist was not a king at 18. He wasn’t even particularly good and was consistently booed off the ice. In that first year with Frölunda, Lundqvist gave up, on average, over four goals a game.
Then, in 20001, Lundqvist was selected to join the Swedish national under-20 team and something changed. He found his stride in that tournament. Lundqvist was named the best goalie in Sweden and won two national championships from 2003-05.
2. He Was Selected in the Seventh Round of the 2000 NHL Entry Draft by the NY Rangers
Although Lundqvist was drafted by the Rangers in 2000, it took him several years before he made the trip stateside and, more importantly, before he felt confident enough to suit up in an NHL uniform. Lundqvist’s lack of confidence was made all the worse after his brother, Joel, was selected in the third round, more than 100 picks earlier than he would eventually go.
Lundqvist explained his in-draft emotions to the NY Post:
My agent suggested I come over to get a taste of my first North American and NHL experience. There was thinking I would be drafted in the fourth or fifth round, so when it got to the sixth round, I thought maybe coming to Calgary hadn’t been such a great idea.I mean, all my buddies had been taken and were kind of looking at me. We were all sitting in the same row. Nobody knew exactly how to act or what to say. It was kind of like, ‘Come on, Hank.’ It was not a great feeling.
After getting his hockey-feet wet, and his metaphorical skates sharpened, with a stint on the Swedish national circuit, Lundqvist was finally ready for the NHL in 2005.
He made his Rangers debut on October 8, 2005 against the NJ Devils, almost lucking into the roster spot after starting goaltender Kevin Weekes had been injured earlier. Lundqvist stopped 24 of 27 shots in a 3-2 overtime loss.
It wasn’t an opening victory but that initial performance was a good sign of what Lundqvist, who measures up at 6-foot-1, would bring to Broadway; a grit and determination in net that has led him to be, largely, regarded as one of the top goalies in the league.
Since joining the Rangers, Lundqvist’s stats have been close to unbelievable. He boasts a 339-208 overall record with 55 shutouts. In 620 career games, he averages just over two goals allowed. He is the first NHL goalie to win at least 30 games in his first seven seasons and, in 2012, was awarded the Vezina Trophy as the NHL’s best goaltender.
Lundqvist signed a seven-year contract extension with the Rangers in 2013, earning up to $59.5 million overall.
3. He’s Been Married to Therese Andersson Since 2011 & the Pair Have 2 Daughters
Lundqvist and Andersson, also a native of Sweden, met in 1998 and continued to date while he was he was playing for Frölunda. The two were engaged several days before Christmas in 2010 and were married in the summer of 2011.
Andersson gave birth the couple’s first child, a daughter named Charliese, on July 10 2012. Their second daughter, Juli, was born on March 20 this year and created a bit of a stir among Rangers fans as her arrival delayed Lundqvist’s return to practice after he suffered a neck injury earlier this season.
4. He’s the Face of MSG’s Garden of Dreams & the Henrik Lundqvist Foundation
Lundqvist became the Rangers spokesman for the Garden of Dreams Foundation in 2009, an organization that works through Madison Square Garden to host events for critically ill children across the Tri-State area. As part of his work with Garden of Dreams, he launched the Crown Collection January 2012, selling items exclusively at retail outlets in MSG.
In addition to Garden of Dreams, Lundqvist also started his own charitable organization, working with his wife, to create the Henrik Lundqvist Foundation.
The Foundation supports several organizations including the New York Presbyterian Children’s Hospital, Ronald McDonald House as well as Garden of Dreams.
In February, MSG Networks premiered a special series of shows called “The Mask,” which paired Lundqvist with various celebrities to design an actual goalie mask he would wear on-ice during games at the Garden. All of the masks were then auctioned off with all proceeds going to the Foundation.
5. He’s 15-3 in Elimination Games Since 2012 & Perfect in Elimination Games at Home
There is a reason the Rangers are confident heading into Game 7 and it begins with Hen and ends with Rik.
Lundqvist’s in-season numbers are already impressive enough, but his elimination-game numbers are almost unfathomable.
The Blueshirts became the first team in NHL history to come back from a 3-1 series deficit in back-to-back seasons, after defeating the Capitalis in the second round, and it was because Lundqvist boats a 15-3 record in elimination games since 2012. In those past 18 games, he has a 1.39 goals-against average and a .956 save percentage as well.
Lundqvist was dominant in Tuesday’s potential elimination game against Tampa Bay as well. He made 13 saves in the second period alone and finished the game with 36 total saves.
As if that weren’t enough, the Rangers, as an organization, are a perfect 7-0 in Game 7’s on home ice at the Garden, dating back to 1992. It’s a streak that’s tied for the longest in NHL history, matching the Detroit Red Wings and Boston Bruins. Lundqvist’s active six-game winning streak in Game 7’s, meanwhile, is a League record for goaltenders.