"Ever since I got here, my dream and my goal is to win the Stanley Cup, and the more time I spend here, the bigger that desire gets. So it would mean everything for me to win the Cup for New York. We have a lot of work still ahead of us here, but it's definitely what drives me the most, the desire to win."
That desire has fueled a staggering run of brilliance from Lundqvist, who has saved 162 of 168 shots over the Rangers' five-game playoff winning streak, and who is riding his own personal five-game winning streak in Game 7s -- just in case the Canadiens rebound Thursday and Sunday nights at the Garden and take this series the distance.
The smart money says that isn't going to happen, not with Lundqvist on one side and Carey Price's novice of a replacement, Dustin Tokarski, on the other. Rangers backup Cam Talbot, a self-described "student to the best in the world," has had a front-row seat to the show his teacher has put on this postseason, and believes the three consecutive season-saving victories over Pittsburgh and the two breakthrough games in Montreal's Bell Centre, a house of horrors no more, featured a Lundqvist who "rose to a level I don't even know if we've seen so far this year."
The second-stringer described the first-stringer as an athlete with an unwavering focus and as a competitor who is angered more by defeat than he is satisfied by a shutout.
"You can tell in his eyes," Talbot said, "that every time he lets in a goal, he's pissed off. He hates it when one gets by him."
Not that many do. The 205th player drafted in 2000 -- the same year Tom Brady was pick No. 199 in New England -- owns more career shutouts for the Rangers than Eddie Giacomin and more career victories for the Rangers than Mike Richter, playing a lot louder than he talks. Although his Garden locker is adjacent to Lundqvist's, Talbot said that he rarely speaks with his teammate before taking the ice (the goalie puts on his game face before he puts on his mask) and that Lundqvist is vocal only when ordering his well-meaning defensemen to quit trying to block the puck and get the hell out of his way.
This approach has left the Rangers' best player with a .964 save percentage over his past five games. "I don't think that he's a lucky goalie," Talbot said.
A lucky guy? Yes, 32-year-old Henrik Lundqvist, rich and famous, is all of that. He's a guitar-jammin' owner of a Tribeca restaurant, Tiny's and the Bar Upstairs, and a walking GQ cover hailed for his looks and sex appeal by People magazine. The world's most impenetrable goalie is one 30-second Dos Equis ad away from becoming the world's most interesting man.
He's also one parade away from purging the metropolitan area's memory of that painful conference-finals loss to Brodeur's Devils in 2012, and from notarizing the obvious: Nobody in or around the big city can touch him, especially now that Masahiro Tanaka has remembered how to lose a baseball game.
Henrik Lundqvist is the undisputed king of New York, even if a half-dozen victories still separate him from his crown.