They say the job of an NHL goaltender isn't to steal games but to just give his team a chance to win. However, that's not enough for the Winnipeg Jets. The Jets ran their win streak to four games on Friday night in a 3-2 shootout with the Philadelphia Flyers, but without the heroics of Ondrej Pavelec, this would have been a loss. It's no easy chore being the No. 1 goalie in a Canadian city. Ask Carey Price and Roberto Luongo about the newspaper and talk-radio experts calling for them to be traded or benched at every halting step. Pavelec, too, knows the burn of the media pushing for more time for his understudy, Al Montoya. Right here in this column the common refrain about Pavelec has been he must be better. Well, he has been better. And the Jets' record has shot up as a result and now sits at 10-9-2. Is Pavelec the only reason? No, just like he wasn't the root cause of the Jets' earlier struggles. But he's been a big part of the resurgence. The Jets aren't balanced enough as a team at this point for Pavelec to be merely good. He must be great if this team is to nose around the playoff line. None of this is news to Pavelec. It might be frustrating at times when he's blamed for porous defensive work in front of him, but he seems to understand his role. Some clubs can afford to have a goalie who is steady yet unremarkable. Not the Jets. They need Pavelec to be elite. If he's not, they're not. Friday was a perfect example, as the Jets had a number of players sleep-walk their way through the contest. The pressure on Pavelec was immense at times. The shots on goal may have favoured the Jets -- 38-34 was the final tally -- but the scoring chances the Flyers were able to mount on Pavelec were more indicative of the game. Philadelphia goalie Steve Mason had his share of work to tend to, but it was Pavelec that had to pull this game from the fire for his team. He was near perfect in the shootout, stopping four of five shooters to make Bryan Little's goal stand up as the winner. Give that round to Pavelec. The Flyers buzzed the Jets' crease in overtime and threatened to score several times, but the Jets goalie denied them. Give that round to Pavelec.
Pavelec takes the weight, Jets take the win over Flyers
Winnipeg Free Press | Nov 16