Yes, Ondrej Pavelec is rested. And, yes, the Winnipeg Jets’ goaltender is ready for Saturday’s latest biggest game of the season, when the Carolina Hurricanes visit MTS Centre for another Southeast Division showdown.
All that said, Pavelec - who did not start Thursday’s 4-0 loss to the Penguins in Pittsburgh as Al Montoya stepped in and faced 43 shots - is getting a little weary of answering the same questions about the same issue over and over again.
"I’m going to be honest," began Pavelec after Friday’s practice. "You guys ask me every time how I feel when I’m playing or not playing. I don’t think it’s a big deal that the goalie plays a lot of games. A lot of goalies are doing it so I don’t see a reason why the goalie couldn’t do it. Players can do it, I think goalies can do it, too.
"I feel good. I feel ready to go."
Pavelec will return to the net for the Jets against Carolina on Saturday. The Jets, at 18-15-2 and with 38 points, hold a six-point lead over the Canes atop the Southeast – although Carolina does have three games in hand. Winnipeg is third in the Eastern Conference, but also have just a three-point advantage over the New York Rangers and Islanders, who are eighth and ninth with 35 points.
"It’s fun... you’re in a playoff race and it’s nice to be in one this late in the season," said Evander Kane. "It’s great to be able to control your own destiny and get into the playoffs on your own merit.
"Obviously, we know the situation: we’re six points ahead of them and they have three games in hand. So if you look at it from a safe standpoint, we’re tied with them and tomorrow we can move ahead of them."
Winger James Wright, who missed the last four games with an upper-body injury, was back at practice Friday wearing an orange non-contact jersey and is still listed as day to day, as is defenceman Mark Stuart. Nik Antropov and Ron Hainsey were not at practice for "maintenance" reasons, according to head coach Claude Noel.
Anthony Peluso (hand) has just started skating but is still listed as week to week as is Jim Slater (hand also).
Meanwhile, defenceman Zach Redmond - who suffered a season-ending injury on Feb. 21 – will be in Winnipeg next week to visit his teammates and speak to the media.
"It’ll be good to see him," said Noel. "When I talked to him last week he was in great spirits. He’s doing really good."