The Rangers have not made it past the second round of the playoffs since 1997. And Henrik Lundqvist, three times a Vezina Trophy finalist, has yet to win the award for the NHL's top goalie.

This could be the year for both to happen.

Because, given the way Lundqvist and, by extension, the team, have been playing the past three weeks, the Rangers should enter the postseason not as pretenders, but as true contenders.

The Rangers, coming off their shot-blocking clinic in Saturday's 1-0 win at Boston, are on an 8-1-1 streak with six regular-season games remaining and will finish anywhere from fifth to eighth in the Eastern Conference.

On Monday, Lundqvist was named the NHL's third star of the week after going 2-0-1 with a 0.32 goals-against average, a .987 save percentage and two shutouts - giving him a league-leading and career-high 11 - in beating the Bruins and the Panthers, 1-0, and losing a 2-1 shootout to the Senators. Lundqvist, who has made 20 straight starts, has a 1.67 goals-against average and a .942 save percentage in the Rangers' 10-game spurt.

He'll certainly have competition for the Vezina from, among others, the Bruins' Tim Thomas, the Canucks' Roberto Luongo and the Predators' Pekka Rinne.