Henrik Lundqvist, Antti Raanta and the usual goalie controversy

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“The Rangers would have a full-blown goaltending controversy. You bet they would. And nobody but nobody wants that, least of all Vigneault.” – Larry Brooks

“As Lundqvist Sits Again, a Hot Hand Turns Cool” – New York Times

“As far as everything I know about Henrik, he is one of the highest competitors I’ve seen in this game. Is he happy about not playing? No. He wants to play. He wants to play every game … That’s what competitors do. And next time we need him, I’m sure he’s gonna be ready.” – Alain Vigneault

Tough times for Henrik Lundqvist, eh? The New York Rangers’ franchise goalie, sitting on the bench, watching a backup goalie thrive, hearing whispers of goalie controversies and the like?

Yeah, December 2013 was a rough one for Lundqvist.

Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it, and here we are again: Assumptions being made about Lundqvist, as he sits for three straight starts in favor of backup Antti Raanta, who has back-to-back shutouts and has only given up one goal in those three starts.

The last time Lundqvist sat for three straight games? That aforementioned rough 2013, when it was Cam Talbot as the streaking backup.

Boy, was he rolling: 4-0-0 in November with a .956 save percentage, and three appearances in December where he didn’t give up more than a goal. Lundqvist’s December was horrid: 4-4-2 with a .888 save percentage. But then many of his Decembers are horrid – by far his worst month in 706 career games, going 54-38-13 with a .908 save percentage and a 2.63 goals against.

He recovered in 2014, obviously, going 33-24-5 with a .920 save percentage, finishing sixth for the Vezina and leading the Rangers to the Stanley Cup Final. The next season Lundqvist was injured and Talbot went on a sick 16-4-3 run, but there was little talk of forcing the veteran out for the kid, but rather what the Rangers could get for the kid in light of his work in the veteran’s absence. (He was eventually flipped to the Oilers.)

With Raanta, the talk is less about the King being dethroned than it is about the King no longer being fit to serve, even if you have The Hockey News evoking a Martin Gerber/Cam Ward scenario in which the Rangers’ goaltending goes “pear-shaped” entering the postseason.

Again: It’s December. That means crowded malls, the abomination that is egg nog and Henrik Lundqvist posting a save percentage low enough to make him an honorary Dallas Star. Overreaction is foolhardy. Lundqvist, even at 34, will find a groove and a level of dominance well before the Rangers inevitably make the playoffs. And Raanta, at the very least, will have caught the attention of Vegas expansion draft scouts.

As Marc Staal told the Daily News: “The fact that it’s the second time I’ve had to answer questions about Hank in 10 years I’ve played with him is a pretty good indication of how important he is and how good of a player he’s been for us. No one on our team or in our organization is worried about him. He’ll be fine.”

Greg Wyshynski is a writer for Yahoo Sports. Contact him at puckdaddyblog@yahoo.com or find him on Twitter. His book, TAKE YOUR EYE OFF THE PUCK, is available on Amazon and wherever books are sold.