Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Pavelec left 'hung out to dry'

Beleaguered goalie should be livid over play of team: Noel

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PITTSBURGH, Pa. -- Most nights, Winnipeg Jets coach Claude Noel is the picture of analysis and composure no matter what the result.

Noel didn't raise his voice with reporters after Saturday's 8-5 defeat by the Pittsburgh Penguins, but there was surely steam seeping from his ears in the hallway of the Consol Energy Center.

 

"We gave up more odd-man rushes in two periods of play than we did in our last 10 games," Noel said. "Quite frankly, I find it as the players being disrespectful to each other, to the goaltending, everything.

"Was there anything good out of that game? We scored five goals and gave up eight."

Noel refused to send any heat to goalie Ondrej Pavelec, who was left to contend with the hungry Penguins.

"We hung him out to dry," the coach said. "I'm not going to sit here and blame the goaltender. Eight goals, yeah, but he should be the most livid guy in the room, teammates doing that to you. It's awful."

The Jets actually had a dream start, up 2-0 through 10 minutes.

Maybe they were thinking about running up the score?

"They just weren't thinking. Period," Noel said. "Some of the plays they were making were poor. Give me a break.

"We started off OK for the first 10 minutes but you take your pick of which areas you want to cover... turning pucks over, D's are up the ice, getting caught."

The real giveaway of the level of Noel's anger was that he hadn't even given a thought to Tuesday's home game against the New York Islanders.

More often than not, the coach has upbeat words for the team's next chance to move up in the standings.

"I'm not sure what to do to deal with that (Pittsburgh) game," he said. "You can't play like that. And we haven't of late. I don't know where that game came from. The reasons would be nothing but excuses."

-- -- --

The Penguins benefitted from having centre Jordan Staal back, and he had a goal and an assist.

"It wasn't the cleanest game, but having that body there makes a big difference," Penguins coach Dan Bylsma said of his big centre.

Noel considered the Staal question irrelevant to Saturday's result.

"We have bigger issues than Staal," Noel snorted.

-- -- --

A very inked-up scoresheet brought numerous notable items into play:

-- The Jets actually had five plus players on Saturday (Mark Stuart, Ron Hainsey, Alex Burmistrov, Tim Stapleton, Antti Miettinen) while Dustin Byfuglien was a team-worst minus-three.

-- With eight goals, the Penguins had seven minus players (Matt Niskanen, Deryk Engelland, Dustin Jeffrey, Cal O'Reilly, Matt Cooke, Steve Sullivan, Pascal Dupuis) and Kris Letang led at plus-three.

-- The Jets surrendered a pair of power-play goals. That makes an opposition deuce in consecutive games and that hasn't happened since early November. In fact, one of the reasons Winnipeg's early dreadful penalty killing has risen to the top half of the NHL is because it hadn't given up two power-play goals in any game since Nov. 19 against Philadelphia.

-- The Jets squandered a five-goal game, and also a game in which they scored in all three periods. That's only happened three times for them in 2012 (now one win, two losses).

-- Malkin has goals in seven straight home games. "Of course I feel great," Malkin said. "We have a great team. But we need to play better in the D zone because five goals is too much."

-- The Jets are now 0-20-3 when trailing after two periods. They certainly didn't give up on Saturday, much like they didn't in Washington on Thursday, but their defensive play sabotaged any effort.

-- Pittsburgh hasn't lost outright when leading after two periods, now 17-0-2, plus has also won five games it was trailing through two periods this season.

tim.campbell@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition February 12, 2012 B2

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