The New York Rangers will be without star goaltender Henrik Lundqvist for 2 – 3 weeks with what the team is calling a “lower-body injury,” according to Sportsnet’s Chris Johnston, via Twitter. The scribe adds that the team has recalled Magnus Hellberg from Hartford of the AHL.
The worst case scenario would see Lundqvist return for the team’s final four or five contests, allowing the 35-year-old netminder enough game action to shake off any rust ahead of the postseason. “The King” was apparently injured at some point during the Blueshirts 5 – 2 win over Florida Tuesday night. The victory was number 404 of Lundqvist’s career and propelled him past Grant Fuhr for 10th place on the league’s all-time wins list. It also represented the 30th win of the 2016-17 campaign with Hank becoming the first goaltender in NHL history to record 11, 30-win seasons in his first 12 years in the league. The only season in which Lundqvist has failed to reach the 30-win plateau was the lockout-shortened 2012-13 campaign in which The King managed 24 victories in 43 starts.
Hellberg has made just one relief appearance in 2016-17 for the Rangers, stopping all four shots faced in a wild 7 – 6 loss to Dallas on January 17th. With four back-to-back sets over the next 15 days, it’s inevitable Hellberg will see some action in the next couple of weeks. In 31 AHL appearances Hellberg has recorded 11 wins against 11 losses with a GAA of 2.91 and a Save % of 0.902.
New York will likely rely heavily on Antti Raanta in Lundqvist’s absence. Raanta has turned in a stellar campaign as Hank’s understudy, winning 13 of 19 starts with a GAA of 2.33 and a Save % of 0.922. He’ll have to continue his strong play for the Rangers to have a realistic chance of catching either Pittsburgh or Columbus and sneaking into the top-three in the highly competitive Metro Division. Then again their best chance for a lengthy playoff run might come by securing the top wild card spot and shifting over into the Atlantic Division bracket thus avoiding a potential match-up with any of their Metro rivals until the Conference Final.