Following the New York Rangers’ March 7th meeting against the Florida Panthers, goaltender Henrik Lundqvist was reported to have sustained a hip injury that would leave him sidelined for two to three weeks, nearly the rest of the regular season. With only eleven games left before the beginning of the playoffs, six of those being played back-to-back, the Rangers could be facing a rocky journey to the post-season.
It could be worse, though.
Backup goaltender Antti Raanta has without a doubt earned his pay this year. In 21 games, Raanta has won 14, showcasing an impressive 2.29 goals-against-average, a .921 save percentage, and three shutouts. Through Lundqvist’s injuries and rough patches, the Rangers glow with confidence whenever Raanta is between the pipes, reminiscent of the team’s play with Cam Talbot. Backing up the Finnish netminder will be Magnus Hellberg, called up from the Hartford Wolf Pack. Hellberg is still untested in the NHL, only facing four shots against the Dallas Stars back in January. With the Wolf Pack this season, Hellberg is 30-20-3 with a 2.40GAA and .918Sv%.
The Rangers will host the Panthers tonight, and then head go St. Paul, Minnesota to take on the Wild. In the following week, two more sets of back-to-back games wait, leaving plenty of opportunity for Hellberg to make his full debut with New York.
With only weeks to go until the playoffs, Lundqvist could use all the rest he can get. The Rangers, on the other hand, cannot rest on their laurels until they clinch a spot in the playoffs. The Rangers currently sit in the first Wild Card slot. The Pittsburgh Penguins hold third in the Metropolitan five points ahead with 95 points. The second Wild Card is comfortably behind at 78 points, held by the Toronto Maple Leafs. The New York Islanders and the Tampa Bay Lightning are right behind with 77 points each.
Henrik Lundqvist currently has 49 games played. (30-17-2, 2.65GAA, .913Sv%)
How do you think the Rangers will fare on the road to the Playoffs without Lundqvist? Will Hellberg be able to carry the weight while the King works through his injury? Let us know what you think!
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