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Henrik Lundqvist leaves ice, returns, leaves again... Should be good to go

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Earlier today, Henrik Lundqvist caused a panic throughout the Twitter world as he unexpectedly left the Rangers' practice.

He returned 14 minutes later, only to leave once again, as an equipment manager took his place.

Cue: mass panic. Because there are no guarantees in the playoffs, and no Lundqvist for the Rangers would make the upcoming first round matchup that more uncertain.

Fortunately, we've got a good explanation as to what was ailing Hank now, and it's nothing to actually panic over - no injuries or anything like that.

Rest up, Lundqvist - he'll need to be fully healthy for Wednesday!

Antti Raanta finished the season strong

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Raanta finished the season by winning seven of his last eight starts (beginning with a victory at Toronto on February 18) and in each of those wins he allowed only one or two goals.

Elias Sports Bureau, Inc. via ESPN

That one loss was pretty rough - a 6-4 loss to the Islanders back on March 6 that saw him let in five goals on 31 shots - but other than that, Antti Raanta has been stellar. Over the seven other starts, he's let in 12 goals, total.

The Rangers needed a new backup when they traded Cam Talbot. How did Antti Raanta work out? Pretty well, evidently - the net isn't an area the Rangers have to worry about at all.

Henrik Lundqvist named team MVP, because of course he was

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A truly horrifying thing to think about: where would the New York Rangers be without Henrik Lundqvist?

Well, let's recap. Lundqvist's save percentage is .921%, tied for 11th amongst all NHL goalies with at least 20 games played. His even strength save percentage is .935%: tied for fifth best in the NHL. And that's all while facing 1,928 shots total; no goalie has faced more.

The Rangers themselves, meanwhile, are a 47.22% corsi for team at even strength: fifth worst in the entire NHL. And despite that, they're going to the playoffs.

The Rangers without Henrik Lundqvist truly would be a very scary story.

Look at all these 20 goal scorers on the Rangers

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Kreider and Stepan are the fourth and fifth players to reach the 20-goal mark for the Rangers this season, after Derick Brassard, Mats Zuccarello and J.T. Miller previously did so. The Rangers have matched the most 20-goal scorer scorers they've had in any of the last 14 seasons. They also had five in 2006-07 (Jaromir Jagr, Michael Nylander, Petr Prucha, Brendan Shanahan, Martin Straka) and 2010-11 (Brian Boyle, Ryan Callahan, Brandon Dubinsky, Marian Gaborik, and Stepan, who scored 21 goals as a rookie; it was his only previous 20-goal season in the NHL).

Elias Sports Bureau, Inc., via ESPN

Can the Rangers make it six 20-goal scorers? Maybe - Rick Nash has three games to score five goals to get there. If he'd been healthy throughout the season, that might have already happened!

In 2006-07, the Rangers had one 30-goal scorer: Jagr. In 2010-11, Dubinsky had the most goals with 24. This season, Brassard leads the way with 27 goals, while Zuccarello is right behind him with 26. There's a faint possibility the Rangers could close out the year with two 30-goal scorers, but the clock's ticking, in that case.

Either way, this is actually one of the more impressive years the Rangers have had in terms of goal-scoring depth. Hopefully that carries through to the playoffs; Henrik Lundqvist would probably appreciate it.

Kevin Hayes, asking the tough questions

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Okay, no, it's not about just what's up with the Rangers as they close out the regular season - but honestly, we all need levity in our lives, even if we're professional athletes.

Dwelling does nobody any good; a loose locker room is one that's probably going to do better on the ice.

Anyway. As to Kevin Hayes' question? I've gotta go with Kit Cup.

The Rangers can still clinch a playoff spot tonight

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Just because they aren't playing doesn't mean they can't clinch!

Okay, so considering the Rangers' record, it's highly unlikely they miss the post-season at all - but that little (x) beside their name sure would look good.

A Boston loss regulation loss, plus even just a Detroit loss in overtime, would see both teams only able to get a maximum of 94 points - one behind the Rangers' current 95, and therefore, leaving the Rangers as one of the top eight teams in the Eastern Conference, without question.

It would have been ideal to get it done last night - but hey, it's around the corner either way, at least.

Isn't it crazy how the Capitals are the only East team to have actually clinched, though? Seriously - that's wild.

Eric Staal reflects on the change from Carolina to New York

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If I did have to move teams, I couldn’t have asked for a better organization to join than the Rangers. I’ve played against them so many times, so I know exactly how good they are.

In Carolina, my job was to lead. Now in New York, my job is fitting in. They were playing good hockey before I got here, and now I just want to do whatever I can to add to that. That’s been a day-by-day process for me. Yes, it’s different, but it’s also really refreshing. I’m getting to experience the game from a perspective I’ve never had before.

The goal here is to win the Stanley Cup, nothing less. I can’t tell you how energized that makes me. I’ve done it once before and I’m going to lay everything I have out there in order to do it again.

Eric Staal, via the Players' Tribune

The letter is a farewell piece to Carolina, but it's also a really good reflection on the boost Staal feels he's gotten from switching teams. If anything, Carolina almost sounds like it was getting monotonous; with the Rangers, things are the same, but also totally different, and it's good to experience.

Also, he's thankful to get to play with his brothers.

Martin St. Louis' advice to Mats Zuccarello: 'Don't disrespect yourself'

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"I told him at one point, ‘People know how tough you are, you don’t need to keep proving it.’ It’s too tiring. You’ll get hurt and won’t have energy when you need the puck. It wears you down. Don’t waste all that energy. Pick your spots better and you’ll have juice in the tank.

""Believe in yourself. I know you always feel you have to prove yourself to other people, because you’re not a high draft pick. But, you have to stop putting everyone else on a pedestal because you were not supposed to be here. That doesn’t mean you don’t stop being respectful of others, just don’t disrespect yourself."

Martin St. Louis to Mats Zuccarello, via Elliotte Friedman's 30 Thoughts (#28)

St. Louis finished his career with the Rangers, retiring after the end of last season. Since then, the Rangers have had only one Mats Zuccarello-sized player: Zucc himself. He's the lone smaller guy now.

St. Louis, 12 years' Zuccarello's senior, no doubt had advice to pass on to his younger counterpart, and there it is.

It's easy to forget Zucc had only played 125 NHL games by the time St. Louis came on board. In the grand scheme of things, that's really not that many. So was his advice, one littler guy to another, valuable? It's hard to imagine it wouldn't have been.

That's really great advice, too. To say "believe in yourself" is one thing - but everything he adds on just makes it that much more meaningful.

Antti Raanta is styling

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Welcome to the New York Rangers, the team with the most stylish goalies around.

Seriously, that's a damn fine suit.

Antti Raanta doesn't have Henrik Lundqvist's straight up model-like looks, but he does have a respectable .916 save percentage to back up Lundqvist's .922, helping form what's been a pretty great goaltending pair for the Rangers.

They're middle of the pack in goals against, but are 11th in shots against per game. Only two teams who have let more shots go against them per game have allowed fewer goals - and we're talking single digits here. For what Lundqvist and Raanta have to face every night, they've been doing great.

A goalie pair that looks good both on and off the ice, evidently. Good call, Raanta.

Quote Keith Yandle: 'Wheeee'

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Click for sound, guys.I can't even tell you how many times I've watched this Vine now, but it's both an embarrassing amount and, simultaneously, not nearly enough.

Keith Yandle is a precious, beautiful soul who must be protected at all costs. Also he must stay a Ranger. Please.

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