Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Coach not ready to judge besieged Pavelec just yet

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IT was hardly a wholehearted endorsement. But when the topic turns to Ondrej Pavelec -- like it does so frequently among Winnipeg Jets faithful -- Paul Maurice isn't so sure the organization should ship the goaltender out or buy him out until they get some structure in front of him.

"He falls into that group with a big bulk of the guys that we need to see that professionalism and the commitment to becoming a better athlete," Maurice said. "As a group we need to put our goaltenders in a position where we can assess their game.

"So, I've heard the comments about consistency from him and those are, in my mind, only reasonable comments if you can say, 'Before I got here and after I got here, did our team play a consistent game?' And there's absolutely no way in my mind.

"I'll just talk about my part of it and there's no way you can say that about this hockey team. There were days I stood up here and said I loved our compete but the quality of our game (had) a long way to improve. It's very difficult to assess a goaltender's ability in that kind of game."

Fair comment. But, interestingly, both Al Montoya and Michael Hutchinson -- even in much smaller sample sizes -- put up better numbers than Pavelec, who was 22-26-7 this season with 3.01 goals against average and .901 save percentage.

"I will tell you in the hockey circles that I talk to, they have a fairly high opinion of this guy as a goaltender but they can't really get a handle on what he's capable of doing because we haven't given (him) a chance to," said Maurice.

"That's all three (goalies). The Anaheim game, the first game we went in, that was Ondrej Pavelec won that game. But we can't take that game and say he should be able to play like that every night. Nobody plays like that every night.

"Before we assess any of our goaltenders, we've got to get it right in front of them."

 

-- Tait

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition April 14, 2014 C2

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