Henrik Lundqvist laughed and smiled, sweat still dripping from his face and his pads still on, having just come off the ice at the Bridgestone Arena following a hard pregame workout.

That was because later on Saturday night against the Predators, he was not the Rangers starting goaltender, instead watching as Cam Talbot pitched his second straight shutout, this one being a 2-0 win where he faced just 17 shots.

So Lundqvist was talking about the system that was currently being implemented, the one that was put into place two seasons ago, when it was finally realized his best chance for success wasn’t playing over 70 games a season, but more like 60 or 65.

And that first season it was in place, Lundqvist just happened to go on and win the Vezina Trophy as the league’s top goalie while carrying his team to the Eastern Conference finals.

“The first time we tried it and it was probably my best season,” he said. “The games now are so intense that it takes a lot out of you. Especially when you can’t afford too many mistakes, you have to be really sharp. If you want to stay up there, you have to stay fresh.”

Lundqvist is a fierce competitor, and admittedly wants to play every game. So when goalie coach Benoit Allaire approached him on the ice at Centennial Sportsplex here during Friday’s practice, Lundqvist knew what was coming.

“In the past, maybe I got more disappointed,” Lundqvist said. “But now I realize, it’s better for me, it’s better for the team. It’s part of the plan.”

It also helps that Talbot has taken full advantage of his opportunity, which only arose as Martin Biron’s shaky start to the year forced him into retirement and opened up the position of Lundqvist’s understudy.