The 39-year-old veteran has 20 goals and 47 points in 68 games this year, averaging over 17-and-a-half minutes per night. Now, he’ll join two other key veterans on the shelf: Henrik Lundqvist, who is still dealing with a vascular injury, and Kevin Klein, who’s out 3-4 weeks with an arm injury.
Assuming St. Louis misses the full two weeks, that would put him on target for a Mar. 30 return — meaning he’d miss the next seven games, including a game on Mar. 24 against Los Angeles, which is a rematch of the 2014 Stanley Cup Final (on NBCSN.)
A source “close to the New York Rangers” has told Ken Campbell of The Hockey News that the club is preparing for star goalie Henrik Lundqvist to make his return next week, on March 24.
The Rangers host the Kings that night (on NBCSN), with 10 regular-season games to go after that.
Lundqvist hasn’t played since Feb. 2 due to a vascular injury. Fortunately for the Blueshirts, backup Cam Talbot has done just fine in the No. 1’s spot, winning 13 games and, today, earning the NHL’s second star for the past week.
Of course, while the Rangers haven’t struggled for wins without Lundqvist, they’ll still want him back in time to get into a groove for the playoffs, which start Apr. 15.
Rangers lead NHL standings after Talbot torments Panthers
When New York Rangers GM Glen Sather went all-in at the trade deadline, he was probably envisioning something like this.
After beating the Florida Panthers 2-1 on Sunday, the Rangers are clearly the top team in the Eastern Conference at the moment and hold tiebreakers over whichever West team wins tonight’s Nashville Predators – Anaheim Ducks game.
Goaltending’s been a big part of their strong work, even if the guy you’d expect to be driving things (Henrik Lundqvist) hasn’t been healthy enough to go.
Mackenzie Skapski turned heads with his first NHL shutout on Saturday, yet Cam Talbot continues to make an argument that he can be a No. 1 goalie himself. He stopped 38 out of 39 shots for his 17th win of the 2014-15 season, and it’s pretty clear that New York leaned heavily upon him today:
The Rangers now have 95 standings points, which seats them five points ahead against the New York Islanders (who have played three more games than the Rangers). The Blueshirts also have a seven-point lead and one game in hand on the Pittsburgh Penguins, so a division title looks very likely as of this writing.
(The Rangers also have a two-point edge and game in hand on Montreal for the East’s No. 1 spot, so … yeah, it’s a pretty rosy situation right now.)
Is this to say the Rangers are perfect? No, it’s probably fair to wonder if this remarkable run of goaltending might hit a brick wall in the postseason. One could probably strain to find other negatives here and there.
Still, the Rangers are looking like a force in the East right now, and Talbot is a big reason why.
AV says the obvious, that tonight was "all about Cam."
If there’s a building goaltending narrative in 2014-15, it’s been about netminders unexpectedly redeeming themselves or almost appearing out of the blue.
Devan Dubnyk went from a wayward soul last season to a possible Vezina nominee for the Minnesota Wild. The New York Rangers somehow didn’t miss a beat when Cam Talbot took over for Henrik Lundqvist. The question in Ottawa went from “Who is Andrew Hammond?” to “How do we beat him?”
It’s pretty early to add the man who was the Florida Panthers’ third goalie to the mix, but Dan Ellis certainly made a case that he should be in the argument with another strong performance Saturday.
Ellis stopped all 27 Carolina Hurricanes shots to grab a 2-0 win for Florida. He’s now currently on a three-game winning streak (and is 3-0-1 since taking over) after spending most of his year in the AHL.
Ellis, 34, comes into this situation in a fittingly weird way, as Roberto Luongo and Al Montoya were injured in the same odd game.
He doesn’t fit into the story of many others who were virtually unproven – Ellis now has 208 regular season games under his belt – yet the league soured enough on him that he wasn’t offered one of 60 NHL goaltending jobs to start 2014-15.
The Panthers still face a very, very long shot to get into the postseason, especially as Tuukka Rask really builds back into “totally worth $7 million” form.
If nothing else, it’s a cool story that follows an interesting pattern, though.
“I’m not quite sure what the next steps are, we’ll find out,” said Rangers’ head coach Alain Vigneault, as per the club’s website.
“When he gets clearance I don’t expect it to be too long before he’s in goal. He’s been skating since the beginning. The only thing he hasn’t been doing is taking shots up top. My understanding of his work load is that it’s been very intense, so it shouldn’t take him long to be back and playing.”
While Lundqvist has been out, Cam Talbot has done an impressive job taking over the starting duties.
Talbot has 12 wins in 17 games since Lundqvist went down with injury, and has allowed only a combined five goals in his last five starts.
It appears, however, that Talbot will get a night off. Mackenzie Skapski will start Saturday against the Buffalo Sabres, as per Andrew Gross.