It would not seem so on the surface, but the New York Rangers have a problem in the crease. While the recent performance of their goaltenders, surrendering 18 goals over the previous four games is cause for concern, it is nothing to ring the alarm bells over. Rough patches are to be expected, as is the ability of both Igor Shesterkin and Alexandar Georgiev to bounce back. The potential of the New York Rangers goaltending issue is far more pervasive.
The New York Rangers are a team that is and has been built with the requirement of exceptional goaltending. The team received this from Henrik Lundqvist for most of his 15 year career and is now receiving it from Shesterkin. The issue lies in the dependance, not on goaltending, per se, but on one a specific goaltender.
The ghosts of New York Rangers backup’s past
The New York Rangers backup parade during Lundqvist’s tenure iced Kevin Weekes, Steve Valiquette and Marty Biron for the first eight years. It was not until Cam Talbot arrived that the Rangers had a backup capable of providing sufficient rest to the starter. More importantly, Talbot was effectively able to take over the crease when Lundqvist fell to injury. Talbot would post a 16-4-3 record to help the Rangers keep pace to win the 2015 Presidents Trophy.
Talbot’s exploits earned him a starters job with the Edmonton Oilers and the New York Rangers acquired Antti Raanta as the new backup. He too was capable of providing the necessary rest to the starter while also filling in while Lundqvist struggled in the early stages of the 2016-17 campaign. However, the Rangers time with capable backups was short lived as both Raanta and Talbot were traded after no more than two seasons of service each.
Looking at the team now and towards the future, it does not appear that the organization has learned its lesson. A deeper look at the men who guard the crease will show just how precarious the New York Rangers goaltending situation really is.