When the puck drops at 7:30 p.m. for the New York Rangers home opener at Madison Square Garden (MSG) after returning from a nine-game, season-opening, road trip, Rangers fans will be pleased to see Henrik Lundqvist — arguably the National Hockey League’s (NHL) best goalie.
Lundqvist, the franchise’s goalie, returns from an undisclosed injury after sitting out the past week missing Thursday’s game against the Philadelphia Flyers and Saturday’s game against the Detroit Red Wings.
“I feel good, so it's not something I'll think about, just about the game and stopping the next shot,” Lundqvist said after his fourth straight day of practice, the Daily News reports.
The Rangers goalie sustained the unknown injury during the Rangers second game of the season on October 7 against the Los Angeles Kings. The player stealthily kept his injury under wraps until last Wednesday when the franchise confirmed he had a lingering injury that would keep him out of Thursday’s game in Philly. Lundqvist publicly announced on his twitter details concerning his undisclosed ailment.
Regarding my day to day injury. Been dealing with it for 2 weeks, now was a good time to try and get back to 100%Follow Us
— Henrik Lundqvist (@HLundqvist30) October 23, 2013
Fans of Lundqvist would have to watch the footage of the Rangers versus the Kings game to determine if Lundqvist showed any signs of physical pain or discomfort throughout the game. Despite the goalie’s injury, he led his team to a 3-1 victory making 28 saves, winning the matchup against Kings goalie Johnathan Quick who only made 25 saves that night, nhl.com reports.
Lundqvist is the recipient of the Vezina Trophy in 2012, runner-up for the award last season and is considered to be the NHL’s most consistent goaltender. This season, his save percentage in seven games is .890 which is 38th among the league’s 45 regular goalies. His career percentage is .926 and is second among goalies, closely trailing Tim Thomas.
Rangers new coach, Alain Vigneault admitted that the injury was known 10 days before it was publicly announced last Wednesday. Lundqvist was injured during the Washington Capitals game but won in a 2-0 shutout — his strongest performance this season. It was only in the October 16 matchup against the New Jersey Devils that Lundqvist said his injury “acted up a little bit” and felt some irritation after being defeated 4-0, the New York Times reports.
However, Lundqvist’s injury could be more mental than physical. The goalie told the Daily News his issues dealt with second-guessing himself after losing several games at the start of the season. “It's just how you approach the game and how you think when things go against you. Obviously getting a tough start, you tend to focus more on negative things sometimes. That’s something I have to turn around, but I'm not focusing on the physical side at all,” he said.
Under the direction of coach Vigneault, the Rangers lineup has seen a lot of changes due to the recent injuries sustained by some of their best players. Carl Hagelin, Rangers left wing, has been on the long-term injury reversed list following off-season surgery to repair a left shoulder torn labrum in early June. Hagelin is scheduled to make his season debut on Tuesday against the Long Island Islanders. Rangers captain and right wing, Ryan Callahan, underwent shoulder surgery like Hagelin — returned this season — and broke his left thumb in the game against the Capitals. Callahan is out until at least November 6.
One injured player who status remains unknown is Rangers right wing, Rick Nash, who suffered a concussion in the October 8 game against the San Jose Sharks. Nash received a hit to the head by Brad Stuart of the Sharks who was suspended for play but has been back on the ice for more than two weeks now. Nash’s overall condition has not improved – the player has not been seen traveling with his team since the concussion.
In Pat Leonard’s The Blueshirts Blog, Leonard reports Vigneault’s silence on the star player’s injury. Vigneault simply replied “I haven’t asked,” and deferred the question to a team spokesman who said “Nothing new.”
According to the Mayo Clinic, concussions result after a person receives a direct blow to the head, face, neck or body. The force causes the brain to shift and can immediately result in confusion, amnesia, loss of consciousness, headache, dizziness, nausea, loss of vision or loss of balance. Those who sustained a concussion while playing competitive sports should take extra precautions as resuming sports too soon could highly increase the risk of a second concussion, and possibly fatal brain injury.
Nash’s return timetable is now indefinite.
The Rangers (3-6-0) face the Montreal Canadiens (6-5-0) today at Madison Square Garden.