Henrik Lundqvist suffered a rib injury in practice ahead of the World Cup, but he says he’s good to go. Coach Rikard Gronborg said the scratch is part of the team’s strategy with their goaltenders.
Sweden will take on the Finland Wednesday in the first pre-tournament game of the World Cup, but one of the biggest names on either team won’t be suiting up.
Swedish coach Rikard Gronborg has announced that starting goaltender Henrik Lundqvist will be watching from the sidelines in the World Cup per-tournament opener.
Under normal circumstances, it would seem like Sweden is simply allowing Lundqvist to rest up, but there could be some concern the scratch has to do with an injury the New York Rangers netminder suffered in practice. Lundqvist told the New York Post’s Larry Brooks that he took a puck to the ribs during practice, and he underwent an MRI after getting hit with the shot.
“I did have some discomfort,” Lundqvist told Brooks. “And it’s sore and stiff and probably will be for a while, but I’m OK.”
However, even with talk of the injury being a possible reason for the scratch, Gronborg said it was part of the team’s “plan” to have Lundqvist sit out and that ‘King’ Henrik will be back in action as soon as Saturday’s contest, a second game against Finland, rolls around.
“Obviously [Lundqvist] is a big cornerstone of the team, so it’s more of a situation right now that he gets a lot of repetition in practice here,” Gronborg said, according to NHL.com’s Dan Rosen. “We really challenged him in practice, and obviously he responded to that. We do have a plan. Right now I don’t feel it’s necessary for me to tell [the media] what the plan is, but we do have a plan. Obviously he’s a big cornerstone of our team.”
The plan will almost certainly include Lundqvist taking the bulk of the starts at the tournament, unless his injury is more serious than he has let on. Lundqvist has been the starting goaltender for Sweden at the past three Olympics and at every World Championship he has participated in since 2004.
With Lundqvist out of action, Vancouver Canucks goaltender Jacob Markstrom, who was one of the original selections to the roster, will get the start in net. Backing up Markstrom will be Toronto Maple Leafs netminder Jhonas Enroth, who was just recently named to the club in place of the Robin Lehner. Lehner withdrew ahead of the tournament to heel an ankle injury.
Want more in-depth features and expert analysis on the game you love? Subscribe to The Hockey News magazine.