Jets goaltender Ondrej Pavelec hit the ice early at MTS Centre this morning, and stayed out late, working through his positions under the watchful eye of Jets goaltending coach Wade Flaherty.
After peeling off his pads, the 26-year-old netminder spoke softly about the last week’s events. He was yanked from the net in the Jets’ 4-6 win over the visiting Minnesota Wild on Friday, and watched Sunday night’s game against the Colorado Avalanche from the bench. "It happens to everybody," he said, his voice heavy with it all. "It happened to me now. I got pulled the last game. I don’t know what else to say. It’s part of hockey. I try to get better, try to get ready for whenever I have the call."
What weighs against the chances of that call now is the performance of Al Montoya, who backstopped the team to a 2-1 overtime win in Colorado, turning away 33 shots to earn a gleaming .971 save percentage and third star of the game. For the season, his .929 save percentage is ninth in the league, although he’s only played in 12 games.
Don’t get too far ahead on that train of thought, though: after practice, coach Claude Noel stressed that Pavelec will remain the Jets’ number one. "You kind of go with what’s going, and it’s just part of the management of it," he said of the decision to start Montoya in Colorado. "I thought Al played a pretty good game. But it doesn’t remove anything from Pavelec. Pavelec is still our number-one goalie… the guy we lean on."
Montoya, too, wouldn’t brook much discussion of any netminding debate. "We try to keep each other fresh," Montoya said of his colleague. "I’m here to push Pavs. He’s a phenomenal goaltender, and my job is to be ready to play whenever I’m called upon. But other than that, it’s just be the best I can be, and help my teammates be the best as well."
Meanwhile, a several Jets stayed out of today’s practice, as they took the offered maintenance day to nurse various bumps and bruises and strains. In addition to the injury-list players, among the missing skaters were Dustin Byfuglien, Tobias Enstrom, Mark Stuart and Andrew Ladd.