Within the span of four days, the New York Rangers goaltending situation has really become one to keep an eye on.
On Sunday, Antti Raanta made his third consecutive start in place of Henrik Lundqvist, the usual No. 1 goalie for the Rangers. In those three games, Raanta has been almost completely unbeatable, with shutouts in back-to-back games, capped with a 19-save effort against the rival New Jersey Devils.
He has allowed only one goal in that time and the Rangers have been victorious. They thoroughly beat the Devils 5-0 on Sunday.
Raanta is the first Rangers goalie since Mike Dunham in 2003 to post back-to-back shutouts. Alain Vigneault has, over these last few days, gone with the hot hand and the decision has paid off.
Lundqvist is, of course, taking the team-first approach to this whole development.
“It’s hard to argue, he’s playing well. It’s about what’s best for the team, not about me,” Lundqvist said, per NorthJersey.com. “I’m going to focus on what I can control here. If he wasn’t playing well and I was still sitting, then it would be hard to accept.”
Now, the question becomes: Who will Vigneault — a coach with plenty of experience in dealing with goalie controversy in Vancouver — start at home against Chicago on Tuesday? Does Raanta get the fourth straight start, or will he relinquish the crease to Lundqvist?
Per reports, Vigneault knows who he is starting. He just hasn’t informed his goalies yet.
The Rangers have a busy portion of their schedule coming up. Beginning Tuesday, they will have five games in seven days, including a back-to-back with travel from Nashville to New York. If Lundqvist doesn’t get a start immediately this week, it’s likely he would get back in the net at some point soon, given the rigors of the schedule.
Again, something to keep an eye on.