Jets have stopping power
Mason's outing aside, Jets like what they've seen from goalies
KIRK PENTON, QMI Agency
|Ondrej Pavelec stopped 18 shots in his pre-season debut despite some early nerves. (QMI Agency)
WINNIPEG - Ondrej Pavelec and David Aebischer were nervous, while Chris Mason was too busy fishing pucks out of his net to feel any butterflies.
The first pre-season appearances for the top three goaltenders on the Winnipeg Jets depth chart were split, just like the squads that played the games.
Pavelec allowed one goal in two periods of Winnipeg’s 6-1 win over the Columbus Blue Jackets at MTS Centre on Tuesday night, while Aebischer stopped all nine shots he faced in the third.
Mason, meanwhile, went to Columbus with plenty of young Jets hopefuls and dropped a 5-1 decision to a Blue Jackets squad that featured plenty of veterans.
“Sometimes in the pre-season that’s what you’re going to get,” Mason said Thursday after a relatively light training camp day at MTS Centre. “Usually when you go on the road, for the first couple games, you go with a younger lineup. You never know what those games are going to be like.
“They can kind of go either way, and that one didn’t go so well.”
The first pre-season game doesn’t mean much in the big picture, of course, so Mason doesn’t have cause for concern. Plus, he has a huge ally in head coach Claude Noel.
“I’m not worried about that,” Noel said of Mason’s first outing. “I had Chris when I was with Nashville and in Milwaukee when he was starting off. He’s a real battler and competitor. He plays with a lot of heart. I’m not very worried about Chris Mason. He’s a good man for me.”
Pavelec, who was the No. 1 netminder in Atlanta last season, and Aebischer, who is trying to unseat Mason for the backup job after four years in Switzerland, got to play in front of the rabid home fans on Tuesday night. That led to some tense moments for the puck stoppers.
“A couple minutes I was a little nervous,” said Pavelec, who stopped 18 of 19 shots against the Jackets. “It was the first game after four months off, but after a couple shots I felt great and it was a great atmosphere and the team played really well. It was all right for the first game.”
Aebischer said Tuesday’s contest felt like his first NHL game, given his time away from the league, and it took him a good five minutes before he settled down. Even though all signs point to a battle between him and Mason for the backup role, Aebischer, who is in camp on a tryout basis, isn’t thinking that way at all.
“I go out there, I want to compete, I want to do well and then see what happens,” he said. “I don’t really know what the plans are, so I just come here and try to showcase myself.”
So far, so good.