The New York Rangers have been without goaltender Henrik Lundqvist for the past few weeks due to a neck injury he sustained on Jan. 31 against the Carolina Hurricanes. Lundqvist was hit in the throat with a puck during the game against the Hurricanes. He finished the game after spending several minutes with the Rangers’ medical staff.
Lundqvist played and won the next game as well, but started to experience headaches after the second game and decided to be evaluated by team doctors. Doctors then discovered that Lundqvist had a sprained blood vessel. The Rangers goaltender is lucky that this discovery happened as early as it did, the sprained blood vessel could have led to a stroke.
“It was mixed emotions when I found out,” Lundqvist said during a news conference on Feb. 8 at Madison Square Garden. Although relieving news, he was hoping to get back on the ice as soon as possible, but unfortunately this injury is estimated to sideline him for another month.
Even worse news for Ranger fans, the second half of the season is where Lundqvist usually excels. According to ESPN, last season Lundqvist won 11 of his final 19 games, with a .926 save percentage. The previous season, he started the campaign with a .904 January save percentage coming out of the lockout. In April, it was .934, winning 10 of 14 games.
Lundqvist has earned the reputation as one of the league’s best goaltenders, with a .922 save percentage this season, and a .921 average in his career.
The Rangers have been looking to backup Cam Talbot to make the saves in Lundqvist’s absence. Talbot has a .911 save average on the season and has done well running damage control for the time that Lundqvist is out.
Some Ranger fans may not have faith in Talbot, being used to their usual starter’s excellence between the pipes. Freshman Amanda Krause thinks there is no need for the Rangers to worry too much.
“Lundqvist is definitely one of the best in the league, but Talbot is a suitable replacement, he is a pro too and deserves a spot on that team,” Krause said.
Talbot has since won six out nine games as Lundqvist’s replacement, which is a very positive record for a goalkeeper who was suddenly thrown into the spotlight. Prior to Lundqvist’s injury, Talbot had only started in 32 NHL games.
With only 20-year-old Mackenzie Snapski as a backup now, Talbot will try to remain the solid goaltender he has proven to be while Lundqvist remains out with his neck injury.
The Rangers will look to keep a positive record as they try to stay in the playoff hunt in a Metropolitan Division where the top four teams are separated by four points without one of their best players.