The New York Rangers have three games left on their schedule. Here is how they should align the goaltending for the remaining games.
Getting Henrik Lundqvist reps and comfortable with himself in time for the post-season remains the top priority for the New York Rangers. Lundqvist will play every postseason minute barring a blowout or an injury, so worrying about backup Antti Raanta must not be the concern.
However, Raanta helped lead the Rangers through their difficult stretches in the season. Without Raanta’s terrific play as Lundqvist’s back-up, the squad may not even possess a post-season berth. Raanta’s value to the organization cannot go understated, and he deserves appreciation accordingly.
The Rangers have three games remaining in the season. On Wednesday they play in Washington to face the Capitals. Saturday afternoon, the Rangers will play a matinee against the Ottawa Senators. Finally, on Sunday night, the team will play their final home game against the Pittsburgh Penguins.
Many believe when New York announces the winner of the Steven McDonald award before Sunday’s game, Antti Raanta’s name will be called. Should that be the case, it’s an understandable reward for a player who gave it his all this season.
However, the opinion here is that Ryan McDonagh deserves the McDonald Award for his carrying the defense throughout the season. That’s not to say Raanta did not pick up the defense’s poor play, but McDonagh did it for the entire season. Raanta did it in fewer than half of the Rangers’ games.
While we do not believe Raanta deserves the Steven McDonald Award, we do believe Raanta deserves appreciation. Between the Expansion Draft and his enormous trade value, the chances of Raanta remaining in Rangers’ blue and white next season seem lower than ever.
Considering that, and that the Rangers likely will not play Raanta in the post-season at all, the last chance to reward Raanta in any way will come this weekend.
Thus, Antti Raanta should start the last game of the season for the Rangers. It’s a minor nod to Raanta, but it allows him the opportunity for one final home game with New York should he end up traded. The Rangers will be on the second half of a back to back. Thus, the nod will not impact Henrik Lundqvist at all.
During the game, the Rangers should tout Raanta’s tremendous season. Regardless of if he wins the Steven McDonald Award or not, he kept the Rangers in the race and aided the team in being where they are today.
Let Antti Raanta play between the pipes for New York’s final home game of the season. Let the Garden Crowd salute him one more time. Regardless of his future standing with the organization, Antti Raanta deserves that.