CLAUDE NOEL pondered the question for a moment. And the Winnipeg Jets head coach hardly tap-danced around his answer when asked about the work of his starting goaltender, Ondrej Pavelec.
"Pavs?" Noel said. "I think he'd like to have a little bit better game."
It's true, Pavelec was not one of the three stars or one of the few Jets who jumped off the page. And there's no argument that if the Jets are going to morph into a playoff squad the Czech netminder -- the man the organization invested so much in over the summer with a new deal -- is going to have to stand on his head on many nights.
But in his defence, the defence in front of him struggled in Saturday's 4-1 loss to Ottawa, surrendering 37 shots, and two of the four goals deflected in front of their goaltender.
"We don't want to make those mistakes," said Pavelec. "It was the first game and some guys haven't played for awhile. It's probably going to take some time before everybody feels comfortable.
"It's good to have the first game behind us and now we go on the road. The season has started. We have no choice but to put this behind you. We lost two points. We didn't win, now we go on the road."
So now, one game into the condensed 48-game schedule, the questions will begin again: Do the Jets go back to Pavelec on Monday in Boston and then Tuesday in Washington? Or does Al Montoya get a look?
"I felt good," Pavelec said. "The crowd helped you to get through the game. It was good to be back and to play. Obviously, we're disappointed we didn't win, but tomorrow is another day. It's a short season. Now we go on the road and we have some big games coming up."
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