The Rangers are gearing up to face off against the Kings.
Henrik Lundqvist had his game-day face on at practice.
He still smiled and answered all the questions thrown at him Monday about the Los Angeles Kings — the New York Rangers’ long-awaited opponent in the Stanley Cup finals.
“Exciting. Long flight,” the star goalie said Monday before he and his teammates headed to California for New York’s first appearance in the finals since winning the title in 1994. “East Coast-West Coast. I’ll look forward to this matchup.”
If there wasn’t already enough pressure on Lundqvist to lead his team to the championship, he is now part of the hype machine heading into Game 1 on Wednesday.
Headlines are screaming: “King Henrik vs. the Kings.”
The Rangers - Kings match up will have a first - the first Norwegian in the Cup Finals!
The odds were absolutely against New York Rangers forward Mats Zuccarello ever reaching a Stanley Cup Final series, becoming the first Norwegian-born player to ever do so.
Much like Martin St. Louis, he managed to make an impact on the NHL despite being an under-sized, undrafted player. He’s already managed quite a feat by making it this far – not to mention leading the Rangers in scoring this season with 59 points – but he told New York Newsday that it’s about more than just the individual accomplishment.
“Some people, like my family and friends, are really excited,” Zuccarello said. “It’s a huge opportunity for me, but we haven’t won anything yet. I would like to be a role model for the young kids, create some more buzz around hockey and hope it can help. But if I was Norwegian or not, I’m happy to be playing in the Final.”
Vail is heading back into the Draft.
Centre Brady Vail skates well, can score goals and has taken on a defensive shutdown role in his career with the Windsor Spitfires, but none of that was enough to convince the Montreal Canadiens to offer him a contract.
The 20-year-old Vail will go back into this month’s National Hockey League Draft after the Canadiens opted not to sign the club’s fourth-round pick in the 2012 draft by Sunday’s deadline.
“I have the utmost respect, but I’m confused, like a lot of people, as to why I didn’t sign,” Vail said. “Now, I just have to worry about the other 29 teams giving me a shot.”