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This article was published 17/3/2015 (2332 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
THEY are ugly numbers, the kind that would make Michael Hutchinson and Ondrej Pavelec wake up in a cold sweat screaming if they fixated on them.
Consider this: The Winnipeg Jets have the worst save percentage in the NHL over the last 20 games at .881.
As a result -- and given the all-over-the-map work of Hutchinson and Pavelec on the recent four-game road trip -- the question on everyone's lips since Saturday's win over Tampa Bay, is who gets the start Tuesday night against the San Jose Sharks?
Coach Paul Maurice, not surprisingly, isn't telling.
The issue was first broached Monday after the Jets practised at MTS Iceplex this way:
REPORTER: "There's a lot of talk about goaltending right now with your team..."
The Jets are 4-4-2 in their last 10 games and remain very much in the Western Conference playoff picture despite some iffy netminding. Hutchinson has been pulled in two of his last three starts and had a .898 save percentage in February and just .845 in March.
Pavelec, meanwhile, came out of the bullpen in the loss to St. Louis, keeping his squad in the game during a dramatic rally... only to see the effort overshadowed by his whiff on Barret Jackman's shot from outside the blue-line. The veteran Czech then stopped 15 of 16 shots in the win over the Lightning.
Clearly, the Jets will need those save percentages to shoot upward if they are to be playing in mid-April. And it will be about more than just solid team defence around the netminders... whoever might be in the blue paint when the upcoming three-game homestand opens.
"In Tampa we kept them to a low number of shots, but they missed the net on a few... not 20, but there's a bunch of shots off good shooters' sticks that if they're under the bar, they're in," said Maurice. "So, we need some saves mixed in there, too. We got them from Pav and we certainly got them from Hutch in Nashville.
"In two of the four games (on the road trip) our goaltenders did absolutely everything you could ask of them against really good opponents."
IF IT WASN'T FOR BAD LUCK... The Jets will be without Paul Postma for a while, possibly the rest of the season, after he suffered a "significant lower-body" injury while playing one of his best games of the year Saturday in Tampa.
The news is devastating for Postma, who sat for 27 games as a healthy scratch before returning against the Lightning and seeing a season-high in ice time of 23:01. Postma also missed a good chunk of last season with a blood clot in his leg.
Maurice said the Jets will have a better understanding of how long Postma will be gone within the next few days, but he will be gone for weeks.
"It's one of those things you see the next day when he comes back," said Maurice. "You think you might be all right but... We appreciate the bite that it took for him to get through that game, because it wasn't easy for him.
"It's a real test of mental toughness. I always found with those kind of injuries the players go through a bit of depression. It's such a hard thing to deal with, especially because of the work he put in to stay right, to stay at the level he did so he could come in and be ready to go."
QUOTABLE: Lightning coach Jon Cooper suggested after Saturday's game Toby Enstrom was responsible for his own injury on the play in which he was hit from behind by Nikita Kucherov, which resulted in the Tampa forward receiving a boarding major and game misconduct. The NHL's department of player safety appeared to agree with Cooper, choosing not to issue any further discipline.
Maurice was asked if he agreed with Cooper's assessment.
"You really shouldn't bang your face off the dasher after you get run from behind," said Maurice, the sarcasm in his voice thick. "We'll talk to him about it."
-- with files from Tim Campbell
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