Ondrej Pavelec has missed the Thrashers’ past four games with a wrist injury, but he is expected to start on Wednesday against Carolina. Pavelec had lost his past three starts, giving up ten goals combined. Chris Mason has started all four of those games, not playing particularly badly in allowing ten goals in four games while going 2-2. But Pavelec has by far been the more consistent of the two. When he is healthy, the job is his to try and keep the Thrashers’ fading playoff hopes alive.
Los Angeles Kings
After staring 72 games last year, Jonathan Quick appeared to be primed to repeat that number this season. But with 20 games to go, he has started only 47 games. Quick’s .918 SV%, 2.22 GAA, and six shutouts are all better than last year. However, he has started only five of the past nine games, with backup Jonathan Bernier starting the other four. In fact, Quick hasn’t started more than two games in a row since early February. Kings coach Terry Murray said that the two will probably split starts the rest of the way. Bernier hasn’t been terrible, going 8-8-3 with a 2.63 GAA and a .905 SV%, but Quick showed last year that he can take this team on his shoulders. I understand if Murray wants him to not play as much before the playoffs, but a 50-50 split just seems wrong.
St. Louis Blues
Jaroslav Halak, who has not played since February 14 with a wrist injury, was activated from injured reserve Tuesday and will start on Wednesday against the Blue Jackets. Ben Bishop and Ty Conklin had pretty much split the 11 starts that Halak missed. Bishop was sent to the AHL Tuesday to make room on the roster for Halak, despite allowing one goal on 20 shots and earning the win against Columbus after Conklin had been pulled. Conklin played ten minutes and allowed three goals on eight shots. He will now continue his former role of Halak’s backup. The Blues have ten more games this month, and are pretty much out of the playoff picture. But I would expect Halak to play most of these games, as he’s had a month off and should be quite fresh.
The Capitals are finally starting to hit their stride, winning seven of their past eight games. Semyon Varlamov has not played since February 20 and will be out for at least another week with a lower body injury. Michal Neuvirth has been getting the starts in his absence, starting all seven games since Varlamov has been out. He allowed 14 goals in those games, but six were in one game. Neuvirth had to be removed from Monday’s game after the first period, after getting hit in the mask with a shot. Braden Holtby stopped all 21 shots in 45 minutes and earned the 2-1 shootout victory over the Lightning. It was his first game since late January, although he’s only allowed three goals in his last four appearances. Neuvirth was probably just shaken up, but if he does miss a few games, Holtby is a good option considering the way he and the team have been playing recently. Holtby is scheduled to start Wednesday’s game against Edmonton.