The road is long for Jets
Ken Wiebe, QMI Agency
|Winnipeg Jets goalie Ondrej Pavelec makes a save against the New York Islanders on Thursday. Pavelec will make his fifth straight start Saturday against the New Jersey Devils. (REUTERS)
Ondrej Pavelec has no concerns about getting worn down on this long road trip.
Of course this is a guy that came into Winnipeg Jets training camp telling reporters he truly wanted to play in each and every game.
He wasn’t joking either.
There’s no chance that was going to happen, but with Chris Mason sidelined with a groin strain until at least Tuesday, Pavelec will make his fifth straight start on Saturday against the New Jersey Devils.
“I’m absolutely fine with that and that’s what you want — you want to play the games and that’s your job to be ready whenever they tell you,” said Pavelec, whose recent hot stretch helped him improve to 4-4-1 with a 3.22 goals against average and .899 save percentage in 10 starts.
“I’m looking forward to that.”
Jets head coach Claude Noel said he wouldn’t hesitate to play Pavelec on consecutive nights as they’ll face the New York Rangers on Saturday night at Madison Square Garden.
Pavelec has the Jets playing with additional confidence, knowing the last line of defence is on his game right now.
“He’s a rock back there,” said Jets winger Tanner Glass. “He makes saves that you don’t think he should make and that’s what you need from a good goalie on a long road trip.”
MORE RECALLS?: Noel wasn’t able to shed much light on the injury situation on Friday, but noted forward Nik Antropov (who took a shot to the arm but finished Thursday’s game) was day-to-day and defenceman Randy Jones (who blocked a shot with his right leg) was also day-to-day but “not probable” to play on Saturday.
Making things more difficult is Mark Stuart remains day-to-day and it’s unknown if he’ll be able to play after sitting out Thursday’s game.
Given the banged up blue-line and the fact Ron Hainsey won’t be back until Tuesday at the earliest, the Jets are likely to recall Paul Postma, Zach Redmond or Arturs Kulda from the St. John’s IceCaps.
They might also recall a forward from the IceCaps, since Kenndal McArdle was placed on waivers Friday and will be sent to the minors if he clears.
The top candidates would be Spencer Machacek, Carl Klingberg, Riley Holzapfel or Jason Jaffray.
The IceCaps are on an Eastern road trip and faced the Connecticut Whale in Hartford on Friday, so it won’t be a problem to get the players to New Jersey for Saturday’s game.
As for Jets forward Eric Fehr, who is coming off shoulder surgery and hasn’t played this season, the Winkler native flatly denied a report that suggested he could be out until March.
“Heck no,” said Fehr, noting he continues to make progress but still doesn’t have a real timetable for his return.
Rounding out the injury list, Winnipegger Derek Meech remains day-to-day with a lower-body injury and won’t rejoin the team on this road trip, while Toby Enstrom is out indefinitely with a broken collarbone.