Ever since coming out of the lockout back in 2005, there hasn’t been a question on who the go-to guy has been in net for the New York Rangers.
Making mountains out of molehills, but given how the last week has gone, doesn’t feel like it has become a question, right?
Because, for the past three games, it hasn’t been Henrik Lundqvist that has gotten the call, but his backup Antti Raanta. And it hasn’t had anything to do with injury, Raanta has been playing that good.
He has done something that even King Henrik has yet to accomplish in his storied career, record consecutive shutouts. In the past three games, the 27-year-old Raanta has stopped 62-of-63 shots, blanking both the New Jersey Devils and his former team, the Chicago Blackhawks.
While it is not uncommon for a goalie to get hot, and then for the coach to ride that hot hand, when the guy that is riding the bench is a player like Lundqvist it is more than worth noting.
Also, worth noting is that while in a smaller sample size, Raanta’s numbers have been much better than Lundqvist’s throughout the course of the season.
Raanta hasn’t played nearly as much as Lundqvist, but the gap between the two is narrowing quickly and is as big as other teams who have goalies that are of elite status.
Lundqvist has started 20 games to Raanta’s 11, and now with the latter riding a hot streak, the gap could close even more in the coming weeks.
|Antti Raanta||Henrik Lundqvist|
|94.17%||Save Percentage (SV%)||91.60|
|2.43||Expected Goals Against/60 (xGA/60)||2.48|
|1.81||Adjusted Fenwick SV%||-0.12|
|98.95||Low-Danger SV% (LDSV%)||97.63|
|94.32||Medium-Danger SV% (MDSV%)||90.14|
*All stats from 5 v 5 Even Strength play, according to Corsica.Hockey
It’s not like Lundqvist is having a horrible season, it is just at the current moment, he is being outplayed. What is shocking is the xGA/60 and actual GA/60 differential.
xGA/60 is how many goals a goalie should be expected to give up, per a 60-minute span based off shot type, quality, etc. So basically, if you have a high xGA/60 number, you are facing a high amount of quality scoring opportunities.
If your actual GA/60 is lower than that number, it means you are stopping pucks at a better rate than you actually should be. When it is higher, you are giving up more than you should.
Not only are Raanta’s numbers better than Lundqvist’s, despite having a similar xGA/60, he also cruises along in the rest of the categories and is actually among the league lead in most of them.
Among goalies who have played 450 minutes at even strength, Raanta is in the top ten in five of the above categories. He has also done this while facing the sixth closest average shot distance.
There still is plenty of time in the season for Lundqvist to take his net back. It’d be crazy to think that this will continue beyond a few more games. With everything so tight at the top of the Metropolitan division, every point matters, and if playing your backup goalie gives you the best chance to win, he should play.
But Lundqvist is also on pace to post the worst Goals-Against-Average (GAA) of his career, as well as his worst SV% mark since 2007, his third season in the NHL.