NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — It looks like the Rangers’ resolve is going to be tested for a while.
That’s because the defending Eastern Conference champions’ franchise goaltender, Henrik Lundqvist, is going to miss at least three weeks with a “vascular” injury to his neck, the team announced on Friday.
“We have been conferring with leading medical experts to ensure the best possible care,” the Rangers said in a statement. “Henrik will remain sidelined at least three weeks, until he is reevaluated and we have completed the process of conferring with the medical experts.”
Lundqvist was initially diagnosed as day-to-day earlier in the week, but red flags went up on Friday when he did not participate in practice at the Rangers’ facility in Greenburgh, N.Y.
Lundqvist, the 2011-12 Vezina Trophy winner, suffered the injury during a scary moment on Saturday night when he took a puck to the throat off a wrist shot by the Carolina Hurricanes’ Brad Malone.
Lundqvist went on to finish that game, but later admitted that he had some trouble breathing and was briefly lightheaded. He then felt well enough to play on Monday night, and made 33 saves in the Blueshirts’ 6-3 win over Florida.
But the injury apparently became a bigger problem on Tuesday. Vigneault initially announced that Lundqvist had suffered an upper body injury, but that was later clarified as an injury to his neck.
Lundqvist, who is 25-11-3 with a 2.25 goals-against average and .922 save percentage this season, sat out New York’s 3-2 win over Boston on Wednesday. Backup Cam Talbot made 18 saves in the victory and will now have to be the Rangers’ horse for the foreseeable future. Vigneault confirmed that Talbot will start Saturday night in Nashville.
“I’m not going to change anything in my approach. My goal is to give my team a chance to win every night,” Talbot said. “It’s a different mindset, going in there knowing I’ll get a couple of games here in a row. It’s one that I’ve done in the past. I look forward to the opportunity of doing it again.”
The 27-year-old, second-year netminder is 5-4-1 with a 2.14 GAA and .924 save percentage this season.
“The last five or six games, he’s been playing extremely well,” Vigneault said of Talbot. “I mentioned at some point last week, he got off to an average start. He’s definitely picked up his level of play. Every game since then, he’s given us a chance to win. We’re gonna need to play real solid in front of him. I think we did that against Boston. We had one of our better defensive and offensive games in a while.”
The Rangers (30-15-4) started play on Friday in sixth place in the conference and three points behind the first-place Islanders in the Metropolitan Division. Five of their next six games are on the road.