Sweden not likely to be neutral site
The Kings are the designated home team for tomorrow’s season opener against the New York Rangers in Stockholm, but it probably won’t sound that way in the arena. The Kings have only one European player — Anze Kopitar — but the Rangers have two natives of Sweden, goalie Henrik Lundqvist and defenseman Tim Erixon, who might make his NHL debut tomorrow. Not surprisingly, in his post-practice press conference, Murray was asked about Lundqvist, who is revered in Sweden in large part because he helped the national team win the gold medal at the 2006 Winter Olympics.
MURRAY: “Lundqvist is a premier goalie in the league. He has played tremendous hockey for the New York Rangers, from the time that he was a member of the time from the draft. I think the Rangers struck some gold there. He’s a top goalie. I don’t think he has a lot of weaknesses. He’s a player who plays deep in his net. He’s a very skilled player. He’s a reaction goaltender. He plays big. He’s a much bigger-looking goaltender in the net than what he actually is, physically. We’re going to have to make sure that we get people in his face, in his eyes. If he’s able to see the puck, wherever it’s being shot from, he’s going to be able to stop it. We have to make sure we’re doing things offensively to make it more difficult for him.’’
Murray was then asked about the probability of playing in front of a ostensibly neutral crowd that, in reality, will probably be cheering loudly for Lundqvist (and the Rangers by extension).
MURRAY: “It might be more of a challenge for him. Flip it over the other way. He’s at home. Maybe he feels he needs to be really good and put on a little bit of a show, or entertain maybe. But no matter what, this is going to be an exciting game. It’s great for the fans in Sweden. Sweden has produced so many great hockey players over the years, and this is just trying to push the NHL game along in Europe and give the fans another live game. I’m excited about it.’’