With the demotion of former backup Steve Valliquette, the Rangers had a revolving door of backups, with every Hartford goalie getting the call at one point to back up Henrik Lundqvist, stay a week, then get sent back down to get some playing time. Chad Johnson got the start last night, and it was the first time a backup started a game in months.
Johnson not only impressed, but was stellar in his NHL starting debut. He shook off a shaky two periods against Philly, and really showed why he was the most impressive goalie not named Lundqvist in training camp. He was cool, calm, and collected in the face of a myriad of difficult shots. He stopped 31 of 33 shots, with a handful requiring acrobatics that are worthy of Lundqvist status.
Nueve-Dos will be seeing more action if he continues this type of play. That can only be a good thing for the Rangers, as it will give Lundqvist, who has played 70+ games in every year except his first, a much needed break. Maybe it will help him be fresher for the playoffs, should the Rangers qualify. The Rangers may have struck gold here with Johnson, as he appears to be a very capable backup. Should he develop into more than a backup, well that’s a solid trade chip for them as well. And to think, all it cost them was a fifth round pick.