The Rangers have no backup goalie

By now, it’s fairly obvious that the Rangers are a one goalie team. Based on the current situation, they’ll go as far as Henrik Lundqvist takes them.

Thus far, he’s started 22 of 25 games including 13 straight. The recent good stretch since Halloween got the team back in the Metro Division. A tight race where no one has really separated themselves from the pack. Ten total points separates first place Columbus from last place Philadelphia.

Until Tuesday’s tough 5-4 loss to Florida, the Rangers had been playing better winning 10 of 12 on the back of Lundqvist. But a couple of breakdowns in a disjointed first period saw him allow three goals on six shots to be replaced by Ondrej Pavelec. The backup made a rare appearance. He’s only started three games.

If there was a area that was a cause of concern entering the season, it was the lack of a quality backup. Let’s face it. Pavelec doesn’t come close to Lundqvist’s last two. In Antti Raanta and Cam Talbot, the Rangers knew they could trust each to come in and give Lundqvist some much needed rest. That came in handy when injuries and struggles resulted in Talbot and Raanta holding down the forte.

There isn’t that same confidence in Pavelec, who once was Winnipeg’s number one before falling from grace. He spent part of last year in the AHL. That’s why there was a roll of the eyes at GM Jeff Gorton’s signing. Goalie coach Benoit Allaire has been a miracle worker with even current MSG analyst Steve Valiquette crediting him for extending his career. But sometimes, you can push the envelope too far.

While a easy schedule has allowed coach Alain Vigneault to ride Lundqvist, it will pick up. Of course, the King always wants to play because it allows him to find a rhythm. He had his save percentage up to .918 recently. But it went back down to .914. Three goals allowed on six shots in less than 20 minutes of action will do that.

At 35, Lundqvist can’t be everything to the team every night. Or as Sam Rosen proclaimed in a recent win, “It’s all Henrik Lundqvist!” That followed a series of big saves.

With him older and the game opening up, he can’t be as consistent anymore. The odd goals are more frequent. When they come, we shouldn’t be surprised. Without Lundqvist, there is no Rangers renaissance post lockout. There are no three trips to the Conference Final and the franchise’s only Stanley Cup appearance since I was still in high school.

We have been lucky and privileged to have such a classy star athlete to root for. A prideful man who understands how hard it is to win a Cup. Will he ever get another opportunity? 2014 came and went. He can’t do it all alone. The team must play well.

That includes the rarely used Pavelec, who stopped 19 of 21 shots in relief the other night. But he couldn’t prevent the game-winner with 1:09 left. More the product of awful defense from Brendan Smith and Nick Holden.

Do they have full confidence in Pavelec? There isn’t anyone in Hartford coming. Gorton needs to consider making a trade for a better backup. It can’t be a one man show in net. They won’t survive.

About Derek Felix

Derek Felix is sports blogger whose previous experience included separate stints at ESPN as a stat researcher for NHL and WNBA telecasts. The Staten Island native also interned for or hockey historian Stan Fischler and worked behind the scenes for MSG as a production assistant on New Jersey Devil telecasts. An avid New York sports fan who enjoys covering events, writing, concerts, movies and the outdoors, Derek has covered consecutive Staten Island Yankees NY Penn League championships in '05 and '06. He also scored Berkeley Carroll high school basketball games from '06-14 and provided an outlet for the Park Slope school's student athletes. Hitting Back gives them the publicity they deserve. In his free time, he also attends Ranger games and is a loyal St. John's alum with a sports management degree. The Battle Of New York administrator and chief editor can be followed below on Twitter and Facebook.
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1 Response to The Rangers have no backup goalie

  1. Stanfood says:

    I’m a season ticket holder for 42 years and you description of MSG is right on.
    I feel the pain also. Since the transformation and the bridges its not the same. The acoustics have changed to make it not as loud as it used to be. The crowd noise is almost muffled. My seats are in sect 224 and the nice view of the hanging banners is gone. You can hardly see any of them. The list goes on and on but MSG lis still a fantastic place to go to. I donhave any problems selling most of my games even though the price is climbing to the point of me having to start thinking of giving them up. Most of the season ticket holders in my section are gone and MSG is now selling there space as quarter or half year plans for more than the cost of my seats. The days of the season subscribers in the 200 lever are changing. I am still a lifer Ranvers fan and enjoy going but I can also see MSG is a business. The prices are sky high for everything but there isn’t an empty seat and there never will be one. Everything in New York is expensive and going to a Rangers game in the heart of NYC is still an experience of a lifetime. I couldn’t imagine going to any other arena and getting the same felling as you get at MSG. This is all part of being a lifetime Ranger fan. We take the good with the bad and are proud of it. Theres no other city like NYC and no other team like the New York Rangrrs.

    Liked by 1 person

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