New York Hockey: Vezina Trophy

Reigning Vezina Trophy winner Henrik Lundqvist was named one of three finalists for the 2013 award on Wednesday morning, along with Columbus' Sergei Bobrovsky and San Jose's Antti Niemi.

Lundqvist, 31, who posted a 24-16-3 record, 2.05 goals-against average and .926 save percentage, said he's "honored" to again be considered for the NHL's top goaltending honor.

"It means a lot," the New York Rangers star said the morning of a Game 4 matchup against the Washington Capitals at Madison Square Garden. "I'm really proud to be in that category."

[+] EnlargeHenrik Lundqvist
Bruce Bennett/Getty ImagesHenrik Lundqvist has been the Rangers' backbone.
This season wasn't as smooth for Lundqvist, who led the Rangers to the top spot in the Eastern Conference in 2011-12. New York struggled at times during a lockout-shortened season and had to battle for one of the last three spots in the playoffs.

That dogfight down the stretch prevented Lundqvist from getting the rest he enjoyed last season, when he played a career-low 62 of 82 games. By contrast, Lundqvist played all but five of 48 games for the Rangers this year, including 14 consecutive starts to end the regular season.

"It's been an interesting year, a different year," Lundqvist said. "Shortened season, tight schedule and things maybe didn't go our way all the time. But when you have to work really hard to get back in it, back in the race, and you finally get in, it's just a bigger reward.

"Last year, I thought a lot of things were going our way. But this year you had to work really for it. Personally, maybe I had more highs last year, but the consistency this year is something I'm pleased with."

Rangers coach John Tortorella called Lundqvist a "special athlete."

"More and more teams flip-flop their goalies now," Tortorella said. "That doesn't cross our mind. He's that good and that consistent."

Lundqvist's consistency throughout his career has been rather remarkable. The former seventh-round draft pick (2000, 205th overall), posted a save percentage of .920 or higher in five of his eight seasons with the Rangers, with a career best .929 last season.

The numbers that allowed him to capture the trophy last year are nothing short of dazzling -- 39-18-5, 1.97 GAA, .929 save percentage and eight shutouts -- though his contributions this year stabilized a Rangers team that came perilously close to missing the playoffs.

Projected to be Stanley Cup contenders in the preseason, the Rangers dropped three of the first four games of the season and struggled all year to create some momentum with a markedly different lineup.

Having Lundqvist in net provided the Rangers the steadying presence they needed to make it where they are today -- heading into Game 4 of the Eastern Conference quarterfinals with the chance to even the series 2-2 against the Capitals.

"It's not very surprising," winger Rick Nash said of Lundqvist's nomination. "He's obviously probably one of the best goalies in the world. He's the backbone of this team and [he] helped us turn everything around when we were struggling. I can't say enough about him."

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