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Hutchinson is focused on ice in front of him

Toast of the town in 2014-15 tries to shut out distractions

Winnipeg Jets goaltender Michael Hutchinson.

JOE BRYKSA / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS FILES

Winnipeg Jets goaltender Michael Hutchinson.

Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 30/9/2015 (1272 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

He was the king of the crease in Winnipeg during parts of the 2014-15 NHL season, playing his way into the No. 1 role on a Jets team that seemed to come alive with every one of his show-stopping saves.

And though many fans wouldn’t have so much as batted an eyelash had the goaltender been honoured with a key to the city during his reign, a tough stretch early in the second half of the season for Michael Hutchinson — combined with an impressive turnaround by Ondrej Pavelec — was enough to return him to the backup role.

“Obviously, you always want to play, but it’s a team game and Pavs was playing well,” Hutchinson said Wednesday when asked about his level of disappointment at the time. “He finished with three straight shutouts and you rarely ever see that in any league, let alone the NHL.”

Pavelec blanked Minnesota, St. Louis and Colorado to close out the season, finishing 9-1-2 in his final 12 starts. It was a streak that helped cement a playoff spot in what was a gruelling Western Conference race and the first for the version 2.0 Jets. For some, it also temporarily erase Pavelec’s struggles earlier in the season, as well as the fact had it not been for Hutchinson’s strong play to start the year, the Jets would’ve mostly likely finished on the other side of the playoff line.

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 30/9/2015 (1272 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

He was the king of the crease in Winnipeg during parts of the 2014-15 NHL season, playing his way into the No. 1 role on a Jets team that seemed to come alive with every one of his show-stopping saves.

And though many fans wouldn’t have so much as batted an eyelash had the goaltender been honoured with a key to the city during his reign, a tough stretch early in the second half of the season for Michael Hutchinson — combined with an impressive turnaround by Ondrej Pavelec — was enough to return him to the backup role.

"Obviously, you always want to play, but it’s a team game and Pavs was playing well," Hutchinson said Wednesday when asked about his level of disappointment at the time. "He finished with three straight shutouts and you rarely ever see that in any league, let alone the NHL."

Pavelec blanked Minnesota, St. Louis and Colorado to close out the season, finishing 9-1-2 in his final 12 starts. It was a streak that helped cement a playoff spot in what was a gruelling Western Conference race and the first for the version 2.0 Jets. For some, it also temporarily erase Pavelec’s struggles earlier in the season, as well as the fact had it not been for Hutchinson’s strong play to start the year, the Jets would’ve mostly likely finished on the other side of the playoff line.

It wasn’t exactly a rosy beginning for Hutchinson either. He was pulled in his first start last season, just minutes in to the second period after allowing three goals on 13 shots in a loss to the Los Angeles Kings. But Hutchinson bounced back immediately, earning points in 11 of his next 12 games and, like Pavelec, put up a record of 9-1-2.

It was the kind of play that sparked many to believe Hutchinson should be in the running for NHL rookie of the year and even more thought he was snubbed from the All-Star Game after posting a 14-4-2 record and a .935 save percentage. But he would eventually cool down, posting a record of 7-6-3 and a save percentage of .885 after the break, ultimately allowing Pavelec to regain his No. 1 status.

"I was really pleased with how my year went for a first year in the NHL," said Hutchinson, who switched things up this summer by spending most of his time in Toronto instead of his hometown of Barrie, Ont., and reuniting with his old strength coach, Brian Marshall, who Hutchinson worked with while a member of the OHL’s London Knights.

"I felt like I did what I needed to do, I played a lot more games than I expected and I was able to help the team win games. You can break your season down game by game, period by period, but that can make you go crazy. At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter whether you win games at the start of the year, end of the year, as long as you help the team win a good amount of games. That’s what I was able to do last year."

Now, with a fresh season looming, Hutchinson said he feels better than ever — the result of giving extra attention to sore spots on his body that have lingered from two seasons ago, when he played 73 games between the Ontario Reign (ECHL) and the St. John’s IceCaps (AHL), which included a run to the Calder Cup final.

However, this season is a bit different than others. Still behind Pavelec in the team’s depth chart, he now some real competition below in rising star Connor Hellebuyck, who was sent down Wednesday and is expected to get the lion’s share of starts for the Manitoba Moose farm team this season.

Hutchinson is also set to become a restricted free agent at the end of the season. It’s something he admits creeps in to his mind from time to time, but, as a goalie, added pressure is just part of the deal.

"In the NHL there’s always someone coming for your job, it doesn’t matter whether you’re the No. 1 goalie in the organization or the fourth goalie. But if you’re not stopping the puck, then you have bigger things to worry about than the person behind you."

jeff.hamilton@freepress.mb.ca

twitter: @jeffkhamilton

Jeff Hamilton

Jeff Hamilton
Multimedia producer

After a slew of injuries playing hockey that included breaks to the wrist, arm, and collar bone; a tear of the medial collateral ligament in both knees; as well as a collapsed lung, Jeff figured it was a good idea to take his interest in sports off the ice and in to the classroom.

Read full biography

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