On Tuesday, the New York Rangers announced that goaltender Henrik Lundqvist would miss a second straight day of practice due to what is being called a "minor issue". Head coach Alain Vigneault has not yet ruled Lundqvist out of Thursday night's matchup against the Philadelphia Flyers, but he has also said that the issue could potentially keep him from playing that game. No official word has been given on what the issue is.
"He's getting better. He's got something that he's been dealing with here for a little bit of time, and since we had four days in between games, we figured it was the right time to try and nip this in the bud here," Vigneault told reporters Tuesday.
The Rangers went through the offseason knowing they would be without captain Ryan Callahan and forward Carl Hagelin, two of their top six forwards. Callahan returned in time for the second game of the regular season, only to be injured again and is currently out of the lineup with a broken thumb. Hagelin is on track to be back in the lineup in a week or so. Three games into the season, winger and top offensive threat Rick Nash was concussed. Defenseman Michael Del Zotto missed a couple games due to the flu. Needless to say, the Rangers have had to deal with its share of injuries. But, the worst possible player that could get injured is goaltender Henrik Lundqvist.
Lundqvist, the only goalie to record 30 wins in each of his first seven seasons, won the Vezina Trophy in 2012. That year, he set career highs with 39 wins, .930 save percentage, and a goals against average of 1.97. Last year, he was the Vezina Trophy runner-up to Columbus' Sergei Bobrobsky. Despite the shortened season, Lundqvist became the first Ranger netminder to lead the league in wins since Mike Richter in 1994 (42).
This year, Lundqvist has had a rough start. The NHL has instituted a rule stating that all goaltenders must wear smaller goal pads. Also, like his teammates, he has had to adapt to a new system in front of him now that Vigneault is here and John Tortorella is long gone. So far, through seven games played - six starts - Lundqvist is 2-4-1 with a 3.45 GAA and a uncharacteristic .890 save percentage.
If Lundqvist can't make the start in Philly, recently recalled Hartford Wolf Pack starter Cam Talbot would get his first career NHL regular-season start. If it is the case, it would not be the first time Talbot has played against the Flyers, though. Talbot was credited with the win against Philadelphia in their preseason matchup back on September 17. He stopped 10 of 12 shots in the game.
"We're going to need him (Talbot) to play here. We have eight games in 15 nights, so we're going to need him to play whether it's Thursday or after that," said Vigneault. "I'm confident he'll be real good for us."
Lundqvist is in his ninth NHL season - all with the Rangers. He has played in 518 games and has a career record of 278-175-57. He has a career GAA of 2.27 and a career save percentage of .920. He currently ranks second all-time in Ranger victories with 278, leaving him just 23 wins behind Mike Richter (301) for the team record. His 46 career regular-season shutouts leave him three behind the Ranger record holder in that category, Hall of Fame netminder Eddie Giacomin. He is in the last year of his current contract and with a slight injury and the struggle so far, it is certainly not the year Lundqvist could have envisioned for himself.
Meanwhile, Blueshirts United reports there is no new news on the condition of Rick Nash.and he has not skated yet. Callahan will be out another three weeks with the thumb injury. Although, Hagelin practiced once again with a full contact jersey on and everything looks on track for a return in a week.