Who's No. 1?
The Rangers’ revival after the lockout can be directly tied to the emergence of Henrik Lundqvist as one of the NHL’s elite goaltenders. In his two NHL seasons, Lundqvist, a seventh-round draft pick in 2000, made the NHL All-Rookie Team, won an Olympic gold medal for his native Sweden and has twice been a Vezina Trophy finalist. Last season, Lundqvist had 37 wins, five shutouts, a 2.34 goals-against average and 1,767 saves while playing 70 games. Lundqvist has displayed the ability to make big saves at important times and has been excellent in shootouts. He's cool in the net, but fiery against opponents. He's not the biggest goalie, but he has fast hands and always seems to be in position. Lundqvist spent four seasons in the Swedish Elite League, and the experience has certainly helped him early in his NHL career.
Al Montoya and Stephen Valiquette split the goaltending duties for the AHL Hartford Wolf Pack last season. Montoya, the Rangers' first pick (No. 6 overall) in 2004, had an excellent season, posting a 27-17-0 record with a 2.30 GAA and .914 save percentage. It’s hard not to root for a guy like Valiquette, who has been with the Islanders, Oilers and Rangers since turning pro in 1998, but has played only 12 NHL games. He went 17-12-0 with a 2.34 GAA and .909 save percentage in Hartford last season and 1-2-0 with the Rangers. With Lundqvist likely to play almost every night, Valiquette could spend the season in New York while Montoya carries the load in Hartford.
In the Wings
Chris Holt — The former University of Nebraska-Omaha goalie got off to a rocky start with the ECHL Charlotte Checkers two years ago, improved when promoted to Hartford and looked good in four AHL playoff games that season. He even replaced Lundqvist in a Rangers' game that year. He returned to Charlotte last season and had an excellent year, once again getting promoted to Hartford. He'll probably be the backup with the Wolf Pack this season.
Matt Zaba — The Rangers signed the former Colorado College goalie in August. The 2006-07 team MVP appeared in 110 career games with the Tigers, posting a 55-42-10 record, along with a 2.42 GAA. Two years ago, Zaba was the Tigers' playoff MVP after getting them into the opening round of the NCAA playoffs. He went 20-14-2 record that season, with a 2.52 GAA and .909 save percentage.