McDonald: A Nightmare on 33rd Street?

The waiting is still not over and the nightmare may just be beginning.

After a report from Larry Brooks of the NY Post came out today, saying Henrik Lundqvist will be out for at least a month, the Rangers scrambled and confirmed it, releasing this statement:

“Henrik Lundqvist suffered a vascular injury on Saturday. We have been conferring with leading medical experts to ensure the best possible care. Henrik will remain sidelined at least three weeks, until he is revaluated and we have completed the process of conferring with the medical experts.”

Welcome to Cam Talbot time where the Rangers will leaning on their backup goaltender to fill the void left by The King’s absence.

Losing Lundqvist no doubt hurts the Rangers. Even though, Talbot has shown that he’s a capable backup, the jury is still out on how he will perform in a starting role. With 20 year-old rookie Mackenzie Skapski as No. 33’s understudy, the Rangers will probably have to look for a veteran so they can use Talbot intelligently until Lundqvist returns.

Talbot played well on Wednesday, helping the Rangers to a 3-2 win over the Bruins and he may be fine tomorrow. But how about Sunday? Does Alain Vigneault play him back to back? Simply put, Talbot is not used to the heavy work load of a starter and to thrust him into it is taking a great risk.

So is a trade on the horizon? Not so, said Vigneault.

“We’re in the market right now to win Saturday’s game, and that’s it,” he said to reporters.

Look, no one in the Ranger organization will admit they need a goalie because teams will drive the price up. But look at the roster and you can clearly see anything close to a No. 1 prospect is a few years away.

But that’s what happens when you play without a net like Glen Sather did over the past few years. No need to worry about a goalie, since they had Lundqvist and justifiably so. But now they will find out what life is without him.

Evgeni Nabokov was just waived by Tampa Bay and could be had for nothing and Sather could make a call to another No. 30, who just announced his retirement and will be playing in an alumni game in New Jersey tomorrow.

More importantly, we are going to find out what this Ranger team is capable of doing. Without Lundqvist they need to play crisp hockey, and need full efforts from all four lines and six defensemen. Perfection doesn’t always happen, but the Blueshirts will need to rally behind their new No. 1.

“I just approach it like I’m going to be in there until they tell me differently,” Talbot told reporters today. “That’s the best I can say. … You never want to see a teammate go down, especially one of your best players and a guy the team needs night in and night out. Right now I’m just going in there trying to focus on not missing a beat.”

Thankfully the Rangers have a cushion and lead the Florida Panthers by eight points for the final playoff spot, but if Talbot isn’t up to the challenge, the Rangers may be on the outside looking in when Lundqvist does return.

And that would be a nightmare.

About the Author

Joe McDonald

Joe McDonald is the founder and former publisher of NY Sports Day. After selling to i15Media in 2020, he serves as the Editor-in-Chief and responsible for the editorial side of the publication. In the past, Joe was the managing editor of NY Sportscene magazine and assistant editor of Mets Inside Pitch. He has covered the Mets since 2004.

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