Ondrej Pavelec was frustrated with his forward teammates on Tuesday night, and his feelings hadn’t changed much on Wednesday afternoon.
The Jets starting netminder was not pleased with Winnipeg’s offensive attack during their 3-2 shootout loss to the New York Islanders on Tuesday night at MTS Centre. He voiced his displeasure after the game and didn’t back down when asked about it again after Wednesday’s practice.
“I just said what I felt,” Pavelec said. “It’s not easy to score a goal in this league, and we just threw the puck away in their zone. We’re practising every day what we’re supposed to do, and we just don’t do that. It was bad to see it. We were just shooting for a rebound, and nobody’s driving to the net.”
Pavelec was outstanding during the game, making several highlight-reel stops among the 31 he made overall. At the other end of the rink, Evgeni Nabokov had to replace Al Montoya late in the second period after Jets forward Evander Kane plowed into the latter, giving him a concussion.
According to Pavelec, that’s when the Jets should have pounced. Instead, they played passively.
“And especially against Nabokov,” Pavelec said. “He’s a great goalie with the great experience. He’s played in the NHL for so many years. It’s simple. You’re not going to score against those guys like that, just throwing the puck away in the zone. I wasn’t happy to see that, but it is what it is.
“… He was cold after sitting two hours on the bench, and we just warmed him up. You need to take advantage of it. It’s not easy for a goalie to go in and make saves. We just make it easy. I know it’s tough sometimes, but we just gotta be better there next time.”
Pavelec was speaking only about Tuesday’s game, but he might as well have been talking about most of the season. The 24-year-old Czech Republic native has been Winnipeg’s best player. If all the Jets were playing as well as Pavelec, there would be a lot more joy on Portage Avenue.
The Jets will host the Montreal Canadiens on Thursday night and then entertain the Pittsburgh Penguins on Friday to close out their pre-Christmas schedule, so it’s time for the Jets to get a little greasy and prove they want to win, which it didn’t look like they were willing to do on Tuesday night.
“We were shooting a decent amount (Tuesday), but some of them were just kind of hope shots from areas where you’re not really going to get much of a rebound,” winger Blake Wheeler said.
“So if we can get guys going to the net and guys shooting, hopefully the puck will squirt into some areas where we can put it in.”
Pavelec isn’t mad, and he didn’t yell at his teammates for their effort. He was just calling it the way he saw it, which doesn’t seem to be a problem for the personable goaltender.
“We always talk about how to shoot the puck, how to beat those goalies,” he said. “But no, I don’t yell at my teammates at all.
“We’ve got good defencemen who can shoot the puck well, and they’re looking for a shot from the point. That’s great, but we need guys in front. It’s that simple. I know it’s tough to play in front. It hurts, but it is what it is. That’s how you score the goals. So hopefully we’re going to be better in this part next game.”