Henrik Lundqvist, courtesy of thehockeywriters.com
It’s been a busy day for the Rangers on the injury front. They’ve reported a few things today, some good some bad. To summarize:
- Hank is out for 2-3 weeks with a “lower body injury.” Antti Raanta will start tomorrow against Detroit and Magnus Hellburg has been called up from Hartford to serve as the backup.
- Rick Nash and Michael Grabner both skated today without limitations and should be in the lineup tomorrow.
- Jesper Fast resumed skating today in a non-contact jersey.
- No updates were mentioned on Girardi and Klein, neither of whom skated.
Obviously, the biggest headline today is Henrik Lundqvist’s injury. Brett Cyrgalis of the NY Post has confirmed that Hank strained a hip muscle. That explains why we didn’t notice anything against Florida. Hank’s game has really rounded into shape and he’s playing terrific hockey, but I’m not too worried about this injury. Antti Raanta has been great this year, and as one of the best backups in the league, has proven that he can play well in long stretches. Plus, this will even out Henrik’s workload this season, as he had that stretch in January where he had to play every night because of an injury to Raanta. This will have him fresh for the playoffs and hopefully see him back in time to play a couple games to sharpen back up. This will probably be a repeat of a few years ago when Henrik went down with that neck injury, Cam Talbot played great hockey in his absence, and then Hank came back and was his old self in no time. The only difference here, thankfully, is that this injury is not nearly as severe.
Although the goaltending and defense are banged up, the Rangers are fortunate to have their forward group mostly healthy again. Cyrgalis reported that Nash was skating on a new line with Zibanejad and Buchnevich, while Grabner reunites with Miller and Hayes. Having these two back is such a huge win for the team, as the Rangers sorely missed the speed of Grabner and Nash has been playing an excellent power game lately. With everyone (except Fast) healthy and the top 9 perfectly intact, the Rangers show what a deep scoring lineup they have. I look for them to play at a level that is closer to that 4-5 goals per game stretch from earlier in the year and less like the recent offensive woes. The return of these two should also help special teams. The PP has begun to click a bit in their absence but the PK could use a pick up, especially in the form of Grabner’s speed. I’m also really excited by the fact that Tanner Glass is probably still in the lineup, despite these two returns. I was gearing up to write an angry post, questioning Alain Vigneault’s decision to drop him in favor of the useless Brandon Pirri. AV spared himself this time, thank God. Of course, I expect Glass to rightfully lose his spot once Jesper Fast comes back. Until then, however, it is the right move to keep him in there.