NY Rangers Sit Lundqvist, Turn to Backup G Antti Raanta for Wins


New York Rangers Head Coach Alain Vigneault Opted for Backup Goalie, Antti Raanta, in Net for the Rangers’ Road Games This Week. Vigneault Stated That He Believes Raanta is the “Better Goaltender Right Now” and That They “Need to Win Hockey Games.” Raanta Brought Two Road Game Victories to New York.

The New York Rangers opted for their backup goalie, Antti Raanta, in net against the Winnipeg Jets on Dec.8. The assumption was that the goaltenders would split the back-to-back games, hence Henrik Lundqvist would take on the Blackhawks the following night.

The Rangers came out on top against the Jets 2-1 and Raanta was terrific in goal. Raanta stopped 17 of 18 shots and made some pretty big saves when needed. Raanta’s  .944 save percentage was an improvement from Lundqvist’s .875 and 28 stops of 32 shots against the Isles earlier last week.

It was assumed that Lundqvist would get between the pipes against the Blackhawks but that wasn’t the case. Coach Alain Vigneault stated that Raanta would get the start again, in his first consecutive start

Vigneault explained his decision by stating: “I think everybody knows that Hank’s the guy, Hank’s our No. 1, but I think at this time, Antti [Raanta]’s game is just a little bit better than Hank and we need to win hockey games.”

Raanta went on to lead the Rangers to a 1-0 OT win against the Blackhawks, his former team.

Raanta in Net

So far this season, Raanta has seven wins, a 1.83 GAA and a save percentage of .939 in nine games started. Lundqvist currently has 12 wins, a 2.55 GAA and a save percentage of .912 in 20 games started.

Lately, Lundqvist has been making big saves but has been letting the weak ones through. His play lately hasn’t been reflective of the goaltending that everyone knows Lundqvist is capable of. Lundqvist has always been a top goaltender who can perform under any condition and make the biggest saves. Even if Lundqvist needs less back-to-back games or more downtime, he can still show that play fans know he is capable of.

Raanta has been on a roll lately and Vigneault gave him the opportunity to ride out his hot play. Aside from Raanta’s fresh play confidence, his calm and collected composure gives him the patience that Lundqvist is seemingly losing lately.

Raanta is relaxed in net and avoids the kind of scrambling that Lundqvist can occasionally dish out. Though, Lundqvist has faced many more games and, therefore, many more shots.

Lundqvist will be ready to get back in net in time for the Rangers’ matchup against the New Jersey Devils on Sunday. More practice and a fresh mindset can be beneficial for Lundqvist.

Following the announcement that Raanta would start in Chicago, Lundqvist stated that he does want to play but “Antti is playing well, and I need to raise my level a little bit.”

Both of these goaltenders are capable of great performances and, while a competition isn’t necessary, it is important to play these goaltenders according to their strengths. Each team has two goaltenders for a reason and taking turns relying on each one should be a strategy.

Goaltending Up

Raanta has been on a roll lately; he is making incredible saves, staying focused and winning games. His current record of 7-1-0 is something to be happy about and knowing how good he can be in goal is a plus moving forward.

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The Rangers need to know which players they can rely on and Raanta is definitely one of them. He guards the net like a regularly starting goaltender and treats every game like an important one. His calm, cool and collected in-goal persona is an asset and his goaltending abilities place him above other goaltenders.

Raanta is a good and reliable goaltender. Lundqvist and Raanta on the same roster can be an unstoppable on-and-off goalie pair. If the Rangers accurately use these two goalies to their strengths, they can benefit greatly from their goaltenders’ success.

Regardless, Raanta has been incredible in goal and is far from letting his team down. Raanta maintained the shutout against the Blackhawks and d-man Nick Holden‘s OT game-winner made the Rangers the first team to reach 100 goals this season.

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Raanta is showcasing the best of his goaltending abilities as of late. Raanta’s success shouldn’t take away from Lundqvist’s, though. Both of these goaltenders can bring big wins and make huge saves.

The Rangers can excel by having two solid goaltenders on the roster. Using these two goaltenders to their strengths can be extremely beneficial for the team, therefore they should use it to their advantage.

The New York Rangers’ next matchup is on Sunday, Dec. 11 at 7 p.m.,  against the New Jersey Devils.