Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Tantrum no tonic

Pavelec still down after smashing his stick to smithereens Friday

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DENVER -- A broken man he is not but normally happy-go-lucky Winnipeg Jets goalie Ondrej Pavelec was not in a good place Saturday, the morning after being given the hook in Friday's 6-4 victory over the Minnesota Wild.

The team's No. 1 keeper, yanked after surrendering goals on three of the first six shots he faced, couldn't even take any pleasure from busting up his stick and tossing around his gloves in a mini-tantrum caught by TV cameras near the Jets dressing room.

"No, it didn't feel good at all. No," Pavelec grumbled during an unusually discontented interview after Saturday's practice.

He was not embarrassed in any way for his emotion, he said.

"If you don't have that emotion, there's something wrong with you," he said. "First of all, I didn't know anybody saw me. It was just for me. Sometimes enough is enough and (that) happened last night. It's behind me.

"I don't think it's about showing somebody emotion. It's the way I am and I try to stay calm, but sometimes it's enough and that's what happened last night."

It was all fine for Jets coach Claude Noel, who revealed on Saturday that he'll be going with backup Al Montoya tonight at Pepsi Center against the Colorado Avalanche.

"Doesn't bother me," Noel said about the tantrum. "It's OK. Sometimes you've got to let that stuff out. Then the next day you put in the work and get yourself focused on releasing some of this negative emotion and channel it in a place where you can help yourself.

"That got done a little bit today."

Noel reiterated Pavelec came out of Friday's game to provide a wake-up call for his team, which had more or less left its goalie on his own.

Those goals, much like the six the Jets surrendered to Edmonton in Monday's ugly pre-Christmas loss, were an embarrassment for a team that says it's trying to be better defensively.

And in this process, Pavelec's luck, his confidence and his statistics have sagged badly.

Overall, he is 11-16-4, with a goals against average of 3.03 and save percentage of .902.

But cover your eyes for the next paragraph if you'd rather not know about lately.

In his last nine starts, Pavelec is 1-6-1, has a goals against average of 4.10 and a save percentage of .848.

His normally cheery demeanour -- "New day, new practice. Good to practise. And tomorrow's another day," he said -- didn't last long Saturday.

"Of course I don't like to get the pull, especially at 3-2 and especially the way played the last two games," he said with a frown. "I didn't like it but that's the coach's decision.

"Nothing you can do about it."

Pavelec wanted to take some blame for Friday's goals against.

"I've said so many times, every goal, you can save it, but (those) were tough ones," he said. "We had a bad start, they came to us hard and I couldn't make a save so..."

He mustered up a little enthusiasm for the team's win after Al Montoya relieved him, but only a little.

"It was good for us," he said. "We scored some goals in the first. We were up one goal. So I guess that message worked."

On Saturday, though, Pavelec was not moping in the ice. He even designed his own drill after practice was officially over and had some teammates help him with the extra work on movement and positioning.

"It was good to be on the ice, see some shots," he said. "I've got things to work on, that's for sure. We'll see how it's going to go. It's a tough time. I have to battle through it and stay strong."

Though Noel is turning to Montoya tonight, his words indicate he's not yet ready to put any more pressure on Pavelec.

"We'll give him an opportunity to practise and get some rhythm down," the coach said. "It's no knock against Pavs. He's our go-to goalie and these things happen. Players go through these things.

"We'll look to repair and help him and we have to be better in front of him. That'll be the first thing to help him."

And Pavelec's down mental day? Nothing to worry about, the coach said.

"I think he'd be a little bit down," Noel said. "That'd be a normal human behaviour. I don't think he can sit there and say it doesn't bother him. It does bother him. But I think it's OK that he shows emotion.

"He probably is down. He wants to do better."

tim.campbell@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition December 29, 2013 B3

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