Jets' Pavelec needs to be better

Winnipeg Jets goaltender Ondrej Pavelec skates back to his net after a break in play during NHL...

Winnipeg Jets goaltender Ondrej Pavelec skates back to his net after a break in play during NHL action against the Ottawa Senators at the MTS Centre in Winnipeg on Nov. 29, 2011. (JASON HALSTEAD/QMI Agency)

Ted Wyman, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 8:19 PM ET

Ondrej Pavelec refuses to look at the numbers.

I can’t help but look at them.

It’s kind of like a car wreck.

Pavelec has the 57th best goals against average in the National Hockey League and only three starting goaltenders have a worse GAA than his 3.29.

He has the 54th best save percentage in the league at .896 and, again, only Dwayne Roloson of the Lightning, Steve Mason of the Blue Jackets and Craig Anderson of the Senators have worse numbers among starters.

The Jets insist Pavelec gives them a chance to win every night and there’s no question he has made a lot of big saves on a team that gives up way too many good chances and takes a phenomenal amount of minor penalties.

But he wasn’t very good Tuesday night against Ottawa, and that certainly wasn’t the first time this season Pavelec has been just OK when the Jets needed him to be better than average.

“I wasn’t happy,” Pavelec said of his performance Tuesday. “I could be better and the guys deserve a better effort from me.”

On the whole Pavelec is reasonably happy with his play, after a slow start. He said he’s more confident and comfortable and is enjoying the heavy workload.

He knows he can play better though and expects it to happen.

Even if it does, he won’t use numbers to assess his level of performance.

“It’s not about the stats, it’s about the wins,” Pavelec said. “When I play good and have good stats, I still don’t look at them. If I play good, I know it, if I play bad I know it. I don’t have to look at the stats.”

Pavelec is a restricted free agent at the end of this season and you can be certain the Jets and his agent will look closely at the stats in deciding what kind of contract he should get going forward.

Pavelec, who currently makes $1.15 million a year, has shown he has the potential to be a top goaltender in this league.

But If you look at the top goalies right now, there’s just no comparison.

Tim Thomas, who won the Vezina Trophy last year, has a 1.86 GAA and .937 save percentage. Brian Elliott of the St. Louis Blues is 10-1 with a 1.31 GAA and .951 save percentage in just 11 starts. Jimmy Howard of the Red Wings (1.87, .930), Nikolai Khabibulin of the Oilers (1.88, .936) and Cory Schneider of the Canucks (.193, .937) are all making major differences on their teams.

Granted, they all play on better defensive teams than the Jets. They don’t have a top defenceman who plays like a fourth forward and is often caught out of position. And they don’t play on a team that has had to kill off the most penalties in the league.

Those teams do have something in common, though, and that’s a good chance to make the playoffs and perhaps contend for the Stanley Cup.

The Jets have a long way to go before they can say that.

While goaltending isn’t their most glaring area of concern, it has to be better night in and night out.

Not that Jets coach Claude Noel necessarily agrees.

“I think our goalies have been good this year,” Noel said. “They’ve really helped us win games. I have no problem with the goalies. I don’t get too carried away with the numbers. I just look more at the quality of saves and I think (Pavelec’s) helped us win games.”

Backup goalie Chris Mason, who is in line for a few starts in the near future, realizes there have been ups and downs, but believes goaltending is a big reason why the Jets are competitive in almost every game.

“We give up quite a lot of scoring chances in these games,” said Mason, who has a 2.26 GAA and .906 save percentage, along with a 2-2 record. “For us to have a chance to win almost every game says a lot about the job Pav has done for us.”

Pavelec seems like a great guy, a good teammate and a hard worker who relishes the opportunity to play every night.

Bottom line is, he needs to be better.

And the numbers will tell the story.

Highs and lows between the pipes

top 5 nhl goalies

Brian Elliott, St. Louis 1.31 GAA, .951 SV%

Tim Thomas, Boston 1.86 GAA, .937 SV%

Jimmy Howard, Detroit 1.87 GAA, .930 SV%

Nikolai Khabibulin, Edmonton 1.88 GAA, .936 SV%

Cory Schneider, Vancouver 1.93 GAA, .937 SV%

BOTTOM 5

Jonas Hiller, Anaheim 3.22 GAA, .897 SV%

Ondrej Pavelec, Winnipeg 3.29 GAA, .896 SV%

Dwayne Roloson, Tampa Bay 3.46 GAA, .887 SV%

Craig Anderson, Ottawa 3.47 GAA, .892 SV%

Steve Mason, Columbus 3.63 GAA, .875 SV%


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