Ondrej Pavelec has started in just three games this year. Why have the New York Rangers used him so infrequently?
Ondrej Pavelec has seen action in just six games this season and with Henrik Lundqvist in the midst of 14 straight starts, it’s become obvious that the New York Rangers don’t trust him.
The Rangers have had great success at turning goalies onto the right path by having them work with goaltending coach Benoit Allaire. This hasn’t been the case with Pavelec.
He’s currently deploying a goal against average of 3.56 and a save percentage at .889 percent. They were taking a gamble bringing in Pavelec with the thought that Allaire could turn his game around, but these numbers simply won’t get the job done and are a major reason for his lack of playing time.
Even though it has just been six games, Pavelec doesn’t look comfortable in net. Part of this comes to a lack of playing time but that is something an NHL backup goalie has to get used to.
In Pavelec’s defense the, Rangers schedule has been a favorable one which is allowing them to ride with Lundqvist. This hasn’t stopped Pavelec from seeing action though as he has been called upon to come in relief for Lundqvist three times this season, two of them in the team’s last eight games.
But, in the games that Pavelec has made relief appearances, he hasn’t done a very good job at keeping the game within reach. In all of three of the games that Pavelec has made relief appearances, the Rangers found ways to come back and either tie the game or come within one goal. The problem is that Pavelec couldn’t make the all-important save when needed to continue to give the team a chance at winning.
Against Chicago, the Rangers come back down from three goals and needed Pavelec to make a big save so they could continue to go on the attack. He wasn’t able to do so and would allow two more goals to put the game completely out of reach after it looked like the team was going to find a way to get a point.
More recently, against Florida, the Rangers also game back down three and Pavelec was unable to make the big save. The Rangers had tied the game with a minute to go and in a tied game under the final minute of regulation you have to force that game to overtime to get a point.
It’s very hard to find a quality back-up in this league and the Rangers have been lucky with guys like Martin Biron, Cam Talbot and Antti Raanta serving as Henrik Lundqvist’s backup. All three of these players gave the Rangers a chance at staying in a game but Pavelec hasn’t.
The Rangers have had multiple days off this year nine times and have only played in one back-to-back set this season. They have been fortunate that they’ve been able to ride Henrik Lundqvist and that he isn’t struggling the way he was last season, otherwise, Pavelec would have been forced into games like Antti Raanta was last year.
Clearly, Alain Vigneault does not trust Pavelec right now and that’s something that needs to change as the season progresses. Part of that will be finding Pavelec playing time which will be easy to do with the Rangers having two sets of back-to-backs upcoming.
He has to prove that he can be the type of backup the Rangers need. If not, the Rangers will be in deep trouble should Lundqvist’s play dip or an injury occurs.