December 12, 2013 Sections
Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION
The Winnipeg Jets do not operate as a democracy. So, no matter how much politicking Ondrej Pavelec might or might not do, he doesn't officially get a vote on any goaltending matters.
Still, if the Jets netminder was polled as to how many of the 48 games he would like to start in the condensed 2013 season, his answer would be simple:
"If they ask me, I'm going to say '48,' " said Pavelec with a grin and a shrug Tuesday. "That's what I want to do, that's why I'm playing. It's always up to the coach, what he wants to do.
"I understand the situation. Coach is the boss. It's his responsibility how we are going to play. It's up to him. I never say anything if I don't play."
The Jets goaltending breakdown, specifically how many starts Pavelec makes and how much action Al Montoya sees, will be one of the critical storylines to monitor over the next few months.
If Pavelec is full value for the five-year, $19.5-million contract he signed last June, the Jets likely go from a team on the playoff bubble to one participating in the post-season for the first time in five years.
And if he struggles, the Jets will turn to Montoya -- a former New York Rangers first-round pick who is trying to re-establish himself as a No. 1 puck-stopper.
"I think Pav's a great goalie and I've come in here with the mindset to just prepare for my role, whatever it might be, to help this team win games," Montoya said. "And if that's on the bench, that's on the bench or whenever my number is called I'll be ready.
"Unfortunately, I've had some tough injuries. Now I feel great and it's about staying healthy because when I'm healthy and at the top of my game I feel almost unbeatable.
"It's about doing the right things in practice every single day. But I could go 30 games without a game here."
Or, maybe not.
As much as Pavelec became a fan favourite last year for being a battler while one glorious scoring chance against the Jets was followed by another, there were still some consistency issues and concerns about fatigue late in the season.
Case in point:
-- In his last five starts during the failed playoff push from March 26 to April 7, he surrendered 20 goals.
-- In his last 17 games, in which the Jets went 7-8-2, his save percentage fell below .900 10 times.
-- Pavelec was one of 22 NHL goalies who logged over 3,000 minutes of ice time last year, but of that crew his save percentage ranked 21st -- better only than Chicago's Corey Crawford (.903).
-- Countering all that, is this: Two of his four shutouts came after losses in which he surrendered five goals.
Jets brass must weigh whether Pavelec, who likes the workhorse role, is putting up the consistent numbers to be worthy of a good chunk of the starts.
"It's simple: If I'm not going to play good, I'm going to sit on the bench," said Pavelec. "It's the same for all players. If you're not playing good, you're not going to play. It's up to the coach to decide who is going to be in the net. All I can do is play as hard as I can and try my best and hopefully it's going to work."
Good point, that. Ultimately, Pavelec won't be judged by the personal statistics on the back of his hockey card but by something much bigger.
"My goal," said Pavelec, "is to help the team get to the playoffs. That's the first thing I want to do."
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NHL WORKHORSES: A BRIEF HISTORY
SOME numbers to peruse while debating how many starts Ondrej Pavelec should make for the Jets this season:
Last season 19 NHL goaltenders, including Pavelec, made over two thirds of their team's starts. Nashville's Pekka Rinne led that list with 72 starts.
Worth noting: During the condensed, lockout-shortened season of 1994-95, 20 goalies made two thirds of their club's starts, led by Calgary's Trevor Kidd and Montreal's Patrick Roy, who were between the pipes for 43 of 48 games.
Last year, Pavelec posted career highs in games (68 played; 67 starts), shutouts (4), wins (29) and saves (1,845).
Glenn Hall (Detroit and Chicago) holds the NHL record for most consecutive games -- 502 -- from the beginning of 1955-56 through the first 12 games of the 1962-63 season.
Pavelec twice had streaks of 13 consecutive starts last year, setting and tying a career high.
Pavelec played 3,932 minutes last season, eighth most in the NHL.
The NHL record for most minutes played by a goalie in one season is 4,697, set by New Jersey's Martin Brodeur in 2006-07.
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Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition January 16, 2013 C1