Lundqvist: 'I'm hoping this is the year'

April, 14, 2014
Apr 14
7:20
PM ET
This will be a question New York Rangers goaltender Henrik Lundqvist hears frequently heading into the 2014 Stanley Cup playoffs.

With the franchise record in wins and shutouts, is a championship the last feat needed for The King to earn himself a spot in Rangers lore?

"Well, it’s definitely a thing I want to accomplish, and it’s my biggest dream and goal to win a Cup," Lundqvist said on "The Michael Kay Show" on ESPN New York 98.7 FM on Monday. "But I’m not gonna put extra pressure on myself to get there."

The 32-year-old netminder, who inked a seven-year, $59.5 million extension earlier this season, has won a Vezina Trophy, an Olympic gold medal and two club championships back home in his native Sweden, but never a Cup. The closest he has come to hockey's ultimate prize is the 2012 Eastern Conference finals, a series the Rangers lost to their Hudson River rivals, the New Jersey Devils.

"I think going into playoffs, it’s finding that balance of putting the right amount of pressure on yourself to perform," Lundqvist said. "It’s another level, the best players in the world. When we went to the conference finals a couple years ago, it was so much fun."

Lundqvist hopes the Rangers can take it two steps further this season. "I’m hoping this is the year for us," he said.

The Rangers face the Philadelphia Flyers in the first round, beginning with Game 1 on Thursday at Madison Square Garden. Though the two clubs have not met in the postseason since 1997, the two foes are expecting a nasty battle.

Lundqvist, who is 27-13-3 in 45 career games against the Flyers, can’t wait. "It’s gonna be special," he said. "We play against Philly so many times every year, so we know what to expect from them and they know what to expect from us. It’s gonna be really exciting to go out there and play."

In other Rangers news, the team recalled J.T. Miller from their AHL affiliate, the Hartford Wolf Pack, for what seems like the umpteenth time this season.

Why is this time significant? For one, coach Alain Vigneault dispatched the 20-year-old prospect with some harsh criticism the last time around, questioning his "commitment" both on and off the ice.

"He just hasn’t earned the right to be at this level on a regular basis," Vigneault said.

Whether Miller accepts the challenge could play a serious role in the youngster’s future with the organization. The club can use someone who will contribute offensively in Chris Kreider’s absence. Kreider is expected to miss at least the entire first round with an injured left hand.
Katie Strang covers the NHL for ESPN.com. She is a graduate of Michigan State University and the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism.
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