COLUMBUS, Ohio — For Rangers defenseman Brendan Smith, a healthy scratch for eight of the first 19 games, there undoubtedly was some pressure. Smith, 28, played Friday after sitting for six straight games. He was inserted into the lineup for Steven Kamp fer, paired with Marc Staal.
“I need a simple, high-percentage [game] with the puck, and we need him to bring that physical element that he can bring to the table,” coach Alain Vigneault said before the Rangers’ 2-0 loss to the Blue Jackets.
After a hectic summer that included getting married, fielding offers from other teams and then signing a four-year, $17.4-million contract with the Blueshirts, Smith has been a disappointment with only two assists in 11 games, some bad reads and sloppy plays in his zone.
Smith was on the ice for Columbus’ opening goal, took a penalty and played a total of 14:25. He just missed his first goal of the season when a tuck-in of his own rebound at the right post slid through the crease past goalie Sergei Bobrovsky in the first period.
Said Vigneault, “Thought he had a good game, played within his game, had that opportunity in the first.”
Pavelec praises Allaire
Following in the footsteps of Martin Biron, Cam Talbot and Antti Raanta, Ondrej Pavelec is the latest Rangers backup goalie to sing the praises of goaltending coach Benoit Allaire.
“He’s been around for a while,” said Pavelec, 30, who signed a one-year free-agent contract during the summer. “He knows how to get you ready for an NHL game. He’s a straight guy; if he doesn’t like something, he’ll tell you right away, and as a player, that’s what you want to hear. It’s about the details. He knows they can make a big impact in your play.”
Pavelec was reluctant to reveal any details, but he did mention that he is learning to be more patient. “I really enjoy it,’’ he said. “It’s a great experience for me.”
Forward Paul Carey was scratched for the third straight game after playing in three consecutive games . . . Among the top 60 NHL players in points, Pavel Buchnevich (8-8-16 in 19 games) has the lowest average time on ice: 14:49.