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In this edition of NHL Sound Bites, a New York Rangers legend prepares to have his number retired on Friday and one of the Anaheim Ducks’ rising stars scores yet another highlight-reel goal.
Lundqvist Set to Have No. 30 Retired by Rangers on Friday
The Rangers will retire Henrik Lundqvist‘s No. 30 to the Madison Square Garden rafters in a ceremony ahead of its game against Minnesota Wild on Friday. His 459 career wins make him the winningest goaltender in Rangers franchise history, and sixth all-time among NHL goalies. He suited up with the Rangers for 15 seasons and will forever be remembered as one of the greatest puckstoppers in team and league history.
“What I appreciate now more than ever is just the consistency of having him there,” said former Rangers defenceman Marc Staal, who played 767 regular-season games with Lundqvist from 2007-20. “He was your goalie. You knew he was going to play well. There was never even a thought or worry or concern about your goalie. Having that comfort level for all those years, that’s pretty rare. Looking back on it, we were lucky.”
Lundqvist carries a career save percentage (SV%) of .918 percent, ranking fourth all-time among NHL goalies. He was the Rangers’ rock throughout the vast majority of his career, and his teammates admired his work ethic and compete level.
“He taught me so much about just coming to the rink just ready to compete each night,” said former Rangers forward Derek Stepan, who played 483 regular-season games with Lundqvist from 2010-17. “He probably took 35 breakaways from [Mats] Zuccarello after practice some days. That’s pretty special. He’s just driven. He was just driven to win. He wanted to win. That was the whole point of his process and that was cool.”
The Rangers and Lundqvist became synonymous with each other as he stood as the face of the franchise for most of his career. He says his competitiveness was born out of a desire to constantly test himself.
“It was just that important,” said Lundqvist. “People might think the suits or the cars or whatever, but in the end that didn’t matter at all. What mattered to me was the competition and measuring yourself against the best all the time. I got that opportunity every day playing in this league.”
Zegras Scores Highlight-Reel Michigan Goal Versus Canadiens
Ducks rookie Trevor Zegras added to his highlight reel on Thursday, scoring a “Michigan” lacrosse-style goal against the Montreal Canadiens. Making a name for himself with some incredible goal scoring and playmaking this season, his latest feat helped Anaheim take down Montreal, 5-4. He scored the final two Ducks goals in the game, and the first is certainly one to remember.
“It’s just one of those things where I think it’s a high percentage play if you can pick it up on your stick. I don’t think a lot of goalies are, I guess, expecting it,” said Zegras. “But it’s one of those things where if I have a little bit of space behind the net, I mean, I really don’t see why not. It’s almost like a wraparound. It’s something that I work on quite a bit. It’s nice to see it translate over.”
Zegras ranks second among all NHL rookie skaters with 32 points (12 goals, 20 assists) in 40 games. He is one of the NHL’s most talented upcoming stars, and continues to prove it by taking full advantage of his incredible skill set.
“I looked to see if I could make a play to somebody in the slot, and once I realized that I had a little bit of space I figured I’d just try it,” said Zegras. “So, I don’t know, kind of lucky.”
While Zegras calls the goal “lucky,” hockey fans are getting used to seeing him on their morning sports highlight shows. He even had the opponents in awe of his latest fancy goal.
“You’ve just got to give him credit for trying that move,” said Canadiens forward Jake Evans. “You know, it’s a good goal, and it’s obviously tough to defend, so a lot of credit to him.”
Thank you for reading this edition of NHL Talk, and make sure to listen to THW Podcast every weekday (Monday to Friday) to hear everything your favourite hockey writers have to say about the hottest topics around the league.
Tom Pepper is an NHL columnist at The Hockey Writers. He lives in Toronto and is a diehard fan of the St. Louis Blues.