New York Rangers star goalie Henrik Lundqvist will be backed up Wednesday in Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final against the Kings by a 31-year-old who hasn’t played in the NHL since the 2010-11 season, Rangers Coach Alain Vigneault said.
David LeNeveu has been summoned from the Rangers’ minor-league roster in Hartford, Conn., to replace New York backup goalie Cam Talbot, who is sidelined with an undisclosed injury.
Vigneault said Talbot is “day to day” and declined to reveal how Talbot sustained the injury.
LeNeveu was 8-1 with a 1.19 goals-against average and .963 save percentage with Hartford, including a three-game shutout streak.
His minor-league season ended April 18.
“He’s an experienced guy, practicing with our team throughout the playoffs. Good goaltender,” Vigneault said.
Lundqvist isn't expected to leave the net Wednesday. He's shined in the postseason, going 12-7 with a 2.03 goals-against average and .928 save percentage.
After playing last year in Austria, LeNeveu spent time earlier this season with the South Carolina Stingrays before being signed by the Rangers on Jan. 21.
But he hasn’t played in the NHL since April 3, 2011, when he was in net for the Columbus Blue Jackets. He played two games that season after appearing in 59 with the Phoenix Coyotes from 2005-07.
“It’s been a whirlwind,” LeNeveu told The Trentonian newspaper Tuesday at media day. “It’s definitely not the vision I had last summer … but it’s a testament to just believing in myself and staying with it. There were some difficult times during the season, but it’s all turned out really well.”
Talbot backed up Lundqvist in two playoff games, including the Rangers’ 7-4 loss to the Montreal Canadiens May 27 when Lundqvist was pulled after giving up four goals on 19 shots. Talbot then was absent at Sunday’s practice in New York with the injury.
Vigneault has familiarity with the Kings after coaching in Vancouver from 2006-13, and said he expects the Kings to play a “hard, high-percentage game with and without the puck, in all three zones.
“We know what to expect, we have to execute to our strengths,” Vigneault said.
In addition to leaning on Lundqvist to stymie the Kings, who’ve scored 73 goals in 21 playoff games, the Rangers will be counting on playoff points leaders Martin St. Louis, center Derek Stepan and defenseman Ryan McDonagh to pace the offense.
Vigneault wouldn’t hint if he expects the Kings to continue their high-scoring ways, as they did in series against San Jose, Anaheim and Chicago, or revert to the defensive style that led to them giving up the fewest goals in the NHL during the regular season.
“I’ve got a real good idea of how they like to play, and that’s what I’m preparing my team for, but at the end of the day I’m really talking to my group about playing the kind of hockey that we like to play,” Vigneault said. “We’re excited. We’ve been waiting five days for puck drop.”