THE COUNTDOWN: Henrik Lundqvist Hits The Home Ice

Sponsored By: TAG Heuer  

"King Henrik" defends his crown November 6 at 7pm at Madison Square Garden.

The competition heats up when the New York Rangers face off against the Montreal Canadiens on November 6. Rangers goaltender Henrik Lundqvist continues to serve as the team's powerhouse: Among his many records, Lundqvist is the only NHL goalie to record 11 30-win seasons in his first 12 seasons, the fastest goaltender to record 400 wins and the Rangers' all-time leader in shutouts. Last week, in a matchup against the Avalanche, he saved 31 pucks out of 33 shots, leading to an impressive 3-2 win for the Rangers.

So how does "King Henrik" keep his cool on the ice?

"For me it's all about preparation," Lundqvist, a TAG Heuer ambassador, tells Ndelible. "When I prepare the right way it helps me stay calm and trust my instincts when the pressure is high." His warm-up ritual includes stretching, listening to music and fitting in a nap the afternoon before a game.

His pregame activity does have some unique elements, though: "A lot of my preparation, like getting dressed and starting the warm up, happens at a certain time: I always put my catching glove on before the mask and blocker. Left pad goes on before right pad. [It's somewhere between] a routine and superstition."

Another ritual: As he walks out on the ice, Lundqvist hits the locker room wall. "I always hit the wall once before the first period, twice before the second period, and three times before the third period," he told Whistle. "We had a game that went into six periods—so it was kind of hard to hit the wall six times before I left the locker room. I had to be really fast."

Hockey is rife with superstitions—especially in the playoffs, when players may hold off cutting their beards or refuse to touch conference trophies lest it hurt their chances of winning the Stanley Cup. Many players are diligent in dressing left-to-right (or right-to-left), actually, and some even wait until all their teammates have left the ice before heading back to the lockers.

Lundqvist insists he doesn't take it too seriously. "It's just to get yourself into a place where you feel very comfortable and confident and ready to play." His most important ritual, he says, is remembering his mantra: "Be determined."