Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

No. 1 goalie's numbers up

Pavelec's wobbly save percentage climbing last several games

  • Print

Hockey is a game of heart, yes, but it's a game of numbers too. And numbers tell their own stories -- ones that Ondrej Pavelec says he doesn't read too closely.

"I never look at my numbers," the Jets' soft-spoken goaltender said on Friday afternoon, after kicking out a brisk practice at the MTS Centre. "It's not about the numbers, it's about the wins. It's about the two points at the end of the game."

Two points, like the pair the Jets collected on Thursday when Pavelec helped lift them to a 3-1 decision over the visiting New Jersey Devils. It wasn't a wildly busy night for the netminder -- he faced a workaday 23 shots -- but many of the Devils' chances were quality.

And Pavelec? He was sharp when he had to be: Right in position to block a Bobby Butler shot during a first-period Devils power play. Ready to pounce on a puck Alexei Ponikarovsky whipped towards the net in the opening minutes of the third, to keep the game at a 1-1 tie.

Pavelec closed the Devils game with a rosy .957 save percentage.

This is where the numbers hint at the story they could be spinning -- one of a goaltender settling into a groove that gives his team a strong chance at winning, after a stumbled stretch earlier in the season.

These are small sample sizes, to be sure. But consider this: Pavelec's numbers in a Jan. 29 game in Montreal were rough, with a save percentage of .846; two days later in Miami, almost the same. On Feb. 1, the netminder got shelled in Tampa Bay, giving up five goals on only 14 shots for a grisly .643 save percentage.

That time, he was yanked for Al Montoya.

Since that painful road trio, though, Pavelec's numbers have quietly turned around. Before the puck dropped in Buffalo on the first night of the Jets' recent five-game road trip, Pavelec's season-long save percentage sat a flat .889; six games later, it's crept up to .901 -- closer to where you'd expect an NHL starter to comfortably reside.

This is a positive story arc, but Pavelec isn't ready to call it a happy ending yet. He can be hard on himself; you have to be, he said, to stay in the league.

"Of course, you feel better," he said. "But you have to stay in the middle, not be too high or too low. We've been playing well the last couple of games. You'll wake up in the morning, and come into the rink, everybody has a smile on their face."

Asked to point to something that might have changed recently, Pavelec shrugged. "I feel the same way all season long," he said. "It's about the little details. You're not going to change anything in a couple of practices. It's about the confidence. If you're winning, you'll feel confident. It's all about the winning."

And with that winning, comes more time to settle in. Already, Pavelec has spent more time on the ice and faced more shots than all but five other NHL goalies. By all indications, the Jets will continue to ride their starter just as hard.

"I love it," Pavelec said. "I love ice time. I love to play the games... I'm just happy I can play."

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition March 2, 2013 C2

Fact Check

Fact Check

Have you found an error, or know of something we’ve missed in one of our stories?
Please use the form below and let us know.

* Required
  • Please post the headline of the story or the title of the video with the error.

  • Please post exactly what was wrong with the story.

  • Please indicate your source for the correct information.

  • Yes


  • This will only be used to contact you if we have a question about your submission, it will not be used to identify you or be published.

  • Cancel

Having problems with the form?

Contact Us Directly
  • Print

You can comment on most stories on You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

You can comment on most stories on You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

Have Your Say

New to commenting? Check out our Frequently Asked Questions.

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscribers only. why?

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press Subscribers only. why?

The Winnipeg Free Press does not necessarily endorse any of the views posted. By submitting your comment, you agree to our Terms and Conditions. These terms were revised effective April 16, 2010.


Make text: Larger | Smaller


NDP Leadership Math with Dan Lett

View more like this

Photo Store Gallery

  • Marc Gallant/Winnipeg Free Press. Local/Standup- BABY BISON. Fort Whyte Centre's newest mother gently nudges her 50 pound, female bull calf awake. Calf born yesterday. 25 now in herd. Four more calfs are expected over the next four weeks. It is the bison's second calf. June 7, 2002.
  • A monarch butterfly looks for nectar in Mexican sunflowers at Winnipeg's Assiniboine Park Monday afternoon-Monarch butterflys start their annual migration usually in late August with the first sign of frost- Standup photo– August 22, 2011   (JOE BRYKSA / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS)

View More Gallery Photos


Who are you rooting for in the Super Bowl?

View Results

View Related Story

Ads by Google