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NHL Column: Rangers juggling positional battle at goalie

NHL Columnist

Published: Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Updated: Tuesday, December 3, 2013 00:12

When it comes down to it, hockey is a sport with so many ingredients for success.

You need a productive offense, because at the end of the day, goals are what win you games. You need a stout defense, as you can’t lose a game if the other team can’t score. You need a roster full of depth, as lines need to flow seamlessly in and out of the game.

However, the most important part of any hockey team is the man between the crease. As the goaltender is the glue that holds the team together.

Without a top-notch goalie between the pipes, it’s all for naught.

Luckily for the New York Rangers, they have been blessed with arguably the best goaltender in the NHL, as king Henrik Lundqvist has patrolled the pipes in Manhattan for the past eight seasons.

Lundqvist has been the backbone of the Rangers for years, as evidenced by his five Vezina Trophy nominations in the past seven seasons.

However, new head coach Alain Vigneault has a bit of a selection crisis on his hands, as the emergence of rookie Cam Talbot is a significant threat to King Henrik’s throne.

Talbot has been spectacular in his inaugural NHL campaign, as evidenced by his 6-1 record to go with his 1.49 goals-against-average. Meanwhile, Lundqvist has sputtered out of the gates, allowing 2.51 goals per game to go with an 8-11 mark.

Now, lets not get ahead of ourselves and throw Lundqvist under the bus so quickly. The King is still an elite NHL goaltender who is off to an early season slump, while Talbot is an NHL rookie who has come in hot.

However, the Rangers have a major decision on their hands, as Lundqvist’s contract is set to expire this upcoming spring. It comes down to this: Is Lundqvist going to be worth paying a king’s ransom for a team that may have a stud waiting in the wings?
What the Rangers need to find out is whether or not Talbot truly has what it takes to take the reigns from The King. If yes, it may be worth it to avoid making Lundqvist the highest paid goaltender of all time. However, letting go of one of the NHL’s top goaltenders in his prime would be a major PR disaster that could potentially set the franchise back for years.

The Rangers have themselves a good old-fashioned positional battle, as these two will duke it out for the foreseeable future. On one hand, there’s the incumbent star looking to distance himself as the NHL’s top goaltender. On the other, the young stud that looks to have the game to make himself a true number one goaltender for years to come.

There’s a dynasty war brewing in New York, as King Henrik is going to have to defend his throne from the young Prince Talbot. 

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