The Rangers set off to play a pair of highly important divisional games on the road this weekend, and head coach Alain Vigneault stated after practice Friday that his goaltenders will split the two starts.
Henrik Lundqvist will make his 11th consecutive start in goal when the Rangers face off with the Philadelphia Flyers in a matinee Saturday afternoon at the Wells Fargo Center; and Antti Raanta gets his first starting nod since December 17 on Sunday when New York opposes the Washington Capitals at the Verizon Center.
Raanta suffered a head injury in the first period of that mid-December game against the Minnesota Wild and has appeared in relief only once since--on December 28 in Nashville.
"Three games in four nights, and if Antti hadn't been hurt he would have had one or two (starts) prior to this," explained Vigneault. "Now he has had some good practice time and it's time to get him back in there."
Raanta has appeared in 11 games this season and has posted a 4-3-1 record with a 2.08 GAA and .919 save percentage. Of those 11 appearances, three have come in relief; and only two of his eight starts have come on the road.
Lundqvist stopped 29 of 31 shots in Thursday's 3-1 loss to the Islanders in Brooklyn and is 2-1-1 in his last four starts, surrendering just nine goals. Overall this season in 36 appearances (35 starts), Lundqvist is 19-12-4 with a 2.48 GAA and .920 save percentage this season. He ranks fourth among all league goalies with his 19 victories.
After this weekend the Rangers return home briefly to face the Vancouver Canucks next Tuesday before heading back out on to the road to play the Carolina Hurricanes next Friday and Ottawa Senators on Sunday the 24th.