Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Ondrej Pavelec needs to be even better for Jets to contend

  • Print

It can be argued Ondrej Pavelec got the Winnipeg Jets to where they are right now. However, at the end of the day, ninth place is not where anyone wants to be.

Pavelec certainly didn't hold the Jets back this season, but until this team becomes more defensively reliable, he'll have to do more or the playoffs will continue to be the talk of fantasy.

Pavelec is a capable goalie but the fact remains this team is once again on the wrong side of the goals-for and goals-against line. The Jets have scored 109 goals while allowing 123 for a minus-14 differential. All eight teams ahead of Winnipeg in the Eastern Conference are plus teams in the same category.

Lumping all of that on Pavelec would be ridiculous.

In fact, the opposite is true. Without Pavelec, that number would be much worse.

 

But the goalie must accept his part. It's the reality of the position.

One night after a Jets road game this season in which Pavelec had been particularly sharp, I made a positive comment to Jets assistant GM Craig Heisinger about the performance.

"That's his job," was all Heisinger could squeeze out.

It's true. No team in the NHL will be successful without top-end goaltending. It's the expectation. Not to steal games but to keep a team in position to win.

Letting in three or four a night, as has happened a little too often to the Jets this season, doesn't equate to wins. In 12 losses this season, Pavelec allowed four or more goals. Again, he faced an onslaught of shots in those games and he's only the last line of defence.

The players in front of him need to be better. But so does Pavelec.

It's been said of Pavelec, as he goes so do the Jets. Well, his record is 21-19-3 and that doesn't appear to be good enough to get Winnipeg into the playoffs.

Imagining the Jets without Pavelec doesn't leave one with a warm and fuzzy feeling.

"Goaltending is 70 per cent of hockey. Until you have none and then it's 100 per cent," goes the old NHL axiom.

Until GM Kevin Cheveldayoff and coach Claude Noel can improve the players and the play in front of Pavelec, he's going to need to be other-worldly.

The question is, can he raise his level enough to push the Jets over the line?

From this vantage point, Pavelec gets a B for his performance this season. The Jets will need him to be an A if they are going to become more than an outsider come playoff time.

Pavelec is 37th in the league with a 2.77 goals- against average and he's 33rd in the league with a .906 save percentage. He's been ordinary at best in shootouts, earning two wins against three losses while allowing six goals on 21 shots with a .714 save percentage.

Those numbers, however, tell just one part of the story. Pavelec has faced 1,221 shots, second only to Ryan Miller of the Buffalo Sabres.

Pavelec has been peppered all season and certainly that plays a part in his poor numbers.

"His numbers aren't great... I would beg to differ on that. I don't go by the numbers. I know the save percentage and number of chances and all that but I don't go by that," said Jets coach Claude Noel. "He's still a young player in a good part of his career and I look at him from one year to the other and I see growth. The ceiling isn't there and you still have room to grow. That's what encourages me. I see a marked improvement from him in a lot of areas. If you ask me, 'Is he doing his part?' I would say over and above. I'm a big fan. If you ask me today, 'Could the Winnipeg Jets win a championship with him in nets?' I would say, 'Yes.' "

Noel's job relies on Pavelec's ability to stop the puck so it stands to reason he'd use a critical eye when judging his goalie.

This wasn't Noel protecting one of his players. This was the coach sticking his neck out to support him. There's a big difference.

The Jets want to be a playoff team and to do that they'll need a playoff goalie. Pavelec has shown lots but he hasn't shown that. Neither has the rest of the roster but Pavelec is no different.

Pavelec is one year into a five-year contract with the Jets at a reasonable rate that tops out at $4.75 million in the last year of the deal.

It's not a stretch to suggest he'll be a bargain by the end of the contract.

But a bargain is only a good deal if the product fulfills one's needs.

gary.lawless@freepress.mb.ca Twitter: @garylawless

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition April 25, 2013 D2

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

    No

  • 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 winnipegfreepress.com. 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 winnipegfreepress.com. 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.

letters

Make text: Larger | Smaller

LATEST VIDEO

Glenn January won't blame offensive line for first loss

View more like this

Photo Store Gallery

  • 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)
  • A baby Red Panda in her area at the Zoo. International Red Panda Day is Saturday September 15th and the Assiniboine Park Zoo will be celebrating in a big way! The Zoo is home to three red pandas - Rufus, Rouge and their cub who was born on June 30 of this year. The female cub has yet to be named and the Assiniboine Park Zoo is asking the community to help. September 14, 2012  BORIS MINKEVICH / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS

View More Gallery Photos

About Gary Lawless

Gary Lawless is the Free Press sports columnist and co-host of the Hustler and Lawless show on TSN 1290 Winnipeg and www.winnipegfreepress.com
Lawless began covering sports as a rookie reporter at The Chronicle-Journal in Thunder Bay after graduating from journalism school at Durham College in Ontario.
After a Grey Cup winning stint with the Toronto Argonauts in the communications department, Lawless returned to Thunder Bay as sports editor.
In 1999 he joined the Free Press and after working on the night sports desk moved back into the field where he covered pro hockey, baseball and football beats prior to being named columnist.

Poll

What's your take on a report that shows violent crime is decreasing in Winnipeg?

View Results

View Related Story

Ads by Google