The New York Rangers will have to make do without goalie Henrik Lundqvist for three weeks thanks to a vascular injury he sustained on January 31 when his club faced off against the Carolina Hurricanes.
“Henrik Lundqvist suffered a vascular injury on Saturday. We have been conferring with leading medical experts to ensure the best possible care. Henrik will remain sidelined at least three weeks, until he is re-evaluated and we have completed the process of conferring with the medical experts,” the team said in a statement released Friday.
Lundqvist was hit in the throat with a shot in the second period of the game in question. Treatment was given on the ice and the goaltender remained in the game.
After the game, Lundqvist complained of headaches and light-headedness. He was held out of Wednesday’s game and backup goalie Cam Talbot was put in.
Now, the Rangers have confirmed they’ll have to go without Lundqvist for some time. This means he’ll be missing at least 12 games if estimates are accurate, which puts New York in an interesting and difficult position.
The Rangers have two sets of back-to-back games in that timeframe. That will significantly upgrade the workload faced by Talbot.
There’s also the possibility that the “at least” portion of the release indicates that the Blueshirts believe Lundqvist could be out longer than three weeks. In fact, at the end of the three week period he’s set to be re-evaluated.
Right now, the Rangers are trusting in the tandem of Talbot and Mackenzie Skapsi. The duo was supposed to be relied on in emergency situations, but the Rangers are now facing a longer haul and using the contingency plan is probably not advisable. Does this mean New York should go goalie shopping?
In my estimation, they should at least consider it. Consider what the St. Louis Blues did back in November when they found themselves in the same position after the injury to Brian Elliot. Their movement resulted in the signing of the one and only Martin Brodeur. This bolstered Jake Allen as the backup, gave him some confidence and helped the Blues win some games without their top goalie.
This should serve as a blueprint, pun intended, for the Rangers. Talbot and Allen have a lot in common in that they’re both effective in limited roles but hardly effective enough to be counted on to shoulder the full load. And given the fact that the Rangers’ certainly have a tough few weeks ahead of them, counting on Talbot to handle it may be a bit much.
There are some goalies available, as we explored when we took a look at some of the league’s sellers a few days ago. The Buffalo Sabres could dangle both of their netminders for a decent price, while the Oilers have to also been in the running with Viktor Fasth as a possibility.
Whatever the case may be, the Rangers have a decision to make. And taking a calculated gamble on a netminder is probably the best way to protect themselves at this point and time.