New York Rangers Goaltender Expectations 2017-18
There are three certainties as a New York Rangers fan; death, taxes and a reliable goaltending tandem. Any expectations for NYR goalies would be impossible without acknowledging Benoit Allaire.
Allaire helped turn both Cam Talbot and Antti Raanta into starting goalies. He can also take credit for Henrik Lundqvist‘s success. The goalie wizard will once again have to work his magic with Ondrej Pavelec.
Henrik Lundqvist will once again bear the title of starting goaltender for the New York Rangers. He will also have a more than formidable backup goaltender. After trading away Raanta, along with Derek Stepan to the Arizona Coyotes, the team signed Ondrej Pavelec to be Lundqvist’s new backup. To simply put it, Pavelec and the Rangers are using each other this season. Pavelec wants to prove he can be a starting goalie in the NHL, and the Rangers need a reliable backup.
To be blunt, Henrik Lundqvist is exactly what he was last season. At times he will look like the Hank of old and at times he will look like a Hank that’s lost his step. At this stage of his career, Lundqvist will need to become a guessing goalie. Of course, this could be easily offset by a much younger, faster and more mobile defense.
Poor defense and natural aging is likely why many times last season Lundqvist gave up 4+ goals. It’s normal to lose some quickness and reaction with age, so now he has to compensate in some areas. By no means does this mean he is done, or won’t play the with same presence he has in the past. It just means that he needs to adjust by playing to his strengths and over compensating for weaknesses. Lundqvist’s glove is a strength but short side shots are a weakness of his. At this stage of his career Lundqvist now has to focus on his angles and cheat from time to time. He did it in the playoffs and it helped.
Expect for number 30 to play 60-65 games and again reach 30 wins for another season which will continue to help cement him in Ranger glory.
Pavelec on the other hand, is an interesting player. He was relegated to the minors for awhile last season and has seemed to be off his game for a little while now. When Raanta arried in New York he was a Stanley Cup champion who the team and fans welcomed with open arms. Pavelec has something to prove here. While he may not have seen much success to write home about, Pavelec can definitely take pride in a career 2.87 GAA. He won’t be tasked with played that often but when he does he has to deliver if the Rangers are too succeed.
Something will have to give for Pavelec to find success. The Rangers are a team that allow a lot of shots. Meaning that either his save percentage will have to improve or it may mean Pavelec will become a permanent backup.
It’s safe to say that Henrik Lundqvist is not in his prime anymore and the past three seasons have seen New York Rangers backup goalies getting more and more playing time. Expect Pavelec to get around 20 starts and, just going out on a limb, if Pavelec is willing to learn from Allaire then he will be able to either re-sign with the Rangers or get another chance at being a starter.
Either way, the Rangers will again rely heavily on a goalie tandem being able to lead the charge throughout the season.