The New York Rangers will welcome back their starting goaltender with open arms. Ahead of a crucial road trip through California that begins March 25th in Los Angeles, the timing couldn’t be more convenient as points become difficult to obtain down the final stretch of the regular season. Henrik Lundqvist has been on the shelf since March 7th with a hip-injury.
Henrik Lundqvist set to Return for California Road Trip
In the absence of their backbone, New York owns a record of 2-4-0. Those are definitely not the numbers a team wants, especially in the treacherous Metropolitan Division. The bright spot for the Rangers has been their depth in net, Anti Raanta has been a reliable option possessing a 15-7 record. He has a .920 save percentage and a respectable 2.33 goals-against-average. While it’s great to have the 2012 Vezina Trophy winner back in the fold, the Rangers hope Lundqvist can return to form. His save percentage of .913 is around the league average, and not close to his career norms. The one they call “the king” has been a poster child for inconsistency this season.
Lundqvist began the new year with one of the worst statistical stretches of his career. From January 3rd to the 19th he posted a percentage well below .900% with the exception of January 4th when Lundqvist put up a .938 in a victory over the Flyers. During this difficult sequence of contests five or more goals were surrendered on three occasions and the boys from Broadway lost four of six games.
All teams go through adversity throughout an eighty-two game schedule, the good franchises find ways to bounce back. Proceeding the sequences of losses the Rangers won five of seven as the King returned to his throne, recording numbers over .900% until he went down with injury.
The California Road Trip is Make or Break
Right now the Rangers comfortably reside in a playoff position with a double digit point cushion over the second wild card team. A spot in the standings now owned by the Boston Bruins who just fell into the second wild card after a Toronto Maple Leafs 5-2 victory over the Columbus Blue Jackets tonight. New York is trying to climb out of the wild card spot and they have a tall task ahead of them.
The #1 teams in the Atlantic & Pacific divisions of the @NHL have fewer points than the top 4 teams in the Metropolitan division.
Columbus is only six points up occupying the third position in the Metro, however they have a game in hand. With just eight games remaining on the Rangers schedule, the upcoming California road trip is paramount to gaining ground in the Eastern Conference. The Kings are floundering and seem bound to miss the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the second time in three seasons. The major obstacles come from the Anaheim Ducks, followed by the Pacific Division leading San Jose Sharks. If New York can obtain six of a possible eight points it will be a success. Only two teams in the eight remaining Rangers games are on the outside of the playoff picture.
NEW YORK, NY – FEBRUARY 11: Henrik Lundqvist #30 of the New York Rangers takes a break during the game against the Colorado Avalanche at Madison Square Garden on February 11, 2017 in New York City. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)