The Rangers do not have a goalie controversy, let’s get that out of the way now. What they do have is two very talented goalies playing at a high level of hockey. This sounds like a good thing to me. Antti Raanta is getting the start tonight vs the Stanley Cup Champ Penguins. Over the past few weeks some of the hockey world thinks that Lundqvist’s benching is a sign of concern for the Blueshirts and for the King’s future in NY. I take this the complete opposite ways. Lets take a quick look at the easy stats:
King Henrik Antti Raanta
23 starts 11 starts
.920 sv % .941 sv %
2.34 gga 1.69 gga
But Steve those stats show that Raanta is the better goalie and that there might be a controversy in net. WRONG! Yes, Antti has been playing out of his mind lately and he deserves the starts over Hank at this very moment but rest assured that once the big games come Hank will be in net and there is no question about it. Hank’s stats are right in line with what we at the Garden has grown to love about him. His save % this year is only .1 off his career average and in line with the past 4 years. You need two goalies in the regular season to survive. Raanta knows his place, which is a big benefit to the Rangers, he knows will always be the back up to Hank (until Vegas takes Raanta in the offseason).
Look the Rangers goal is to win a Stanley Cup, to do that they have to make the playoffs (no shit, glad I researched that). But they need to be fresh going into the playoffs. The biggest knock on Lundqvist is that he has never won a Cup, this doesn’t have to do with his ability and the fact he is a top 5 goalie of all time. His defensive has failed him and his workload to get to the playoffs leaves little in the tank come playoff time. The King is about to turn 35 and yes he is staring to slow down so having Antti play at this level is great for the Rangers, it allows Hank to limit his minutes and be rested come playoff time. Hank is a competitor, probably one of the biggest of our generation and he did not like being “benched” for 4 straight games but he needs to know that it will benefit him in the long run.
Ride the hot hand for a little, split the starts the rest of the way. The Rangers are playing great hockey going into the new year and if they can go into the playoffs with a fresh Hall of Fame goalie then look out!
Also published on Medium.