pavelecgetty

Jets’ Pavelec not thinking about possible buyout

3 Comments

Recently, Winnipeg goalie Ondrej Pavelec conducted an interview with Czech news outlet Denik.cz about his current standing with the team. Courtesy SB Nation’s Arctic Ice Hockey, here’s a translation of what he said:

“We didn’t make the playoffs this season. We ruined it by ourselves and because we weren’t close to the playoffs and even if we made it, we wouldn’t deserve it. Journalist actually asked us if there’s anyway they will buy me out of the contract but the GM said that he count on me as the number one goalie for the next season. I’ve got three more years on my contract with the Jets, that’s for sure.

“However, you can never be sure about the things on the other side of the sea. There could be trade or the redemption of the contract. I don’t want to think about it now. The thing I am 100% sure about is, that I’ve got a contract for three more years in Winnipeg.”

Pavelec, 26, just wrapped the second of a five-year, $19.5 million deal with a $3.9M annual cap hit. It was, for the most part, a season to forget — Pavelec had some of the worst numbers (22-26-7, .901 save percentage, 3.01 GAA) of any NHL starter and missed time near the end of the year with a lower-body ailment.

Despite that, the Jets appear more than keen to move ahead with Pavelec as their No. 1.

In April, GM Kevin Cheveldayoff gave Pavelec a full vote of confidence, saying he’d be Winnipeg’s starting netminder going into next season; yesterday, the Jets told the Winnipeg Free Press they wouldn’t be using either of their compliance buyouts during the open window.

Still makes you wonder why the Jets wouldn’t at least explore the option, though.

Now is a pretty good time to be in the market for goaltending. UFAs include Ryan Miller and Jonas Hiller, both of whom could be seen as an upgrade on Pavelec. The option to get James Reimer out of Toronto is also out there, and there’s belief Phoenix’s Thomas Greiss could be primed to make a run at a No. 1 gig.

This is also a Jets team, remember, that could use a shakeup. The new car smell has worn off steadily over the last three years, as fans and media have become increasingly critical of a group that’s spent a lot of money but failed to make the playoffs since coming from Atlanta in 2011.

Pens coach praises Murray: ‘He doesn’t get rattled’

3 Comments

Hot take: the Pittsburgh Penguins probably won’t deal with a goalie controversy going into Game 7.

(Ugh, that’s a failed hot take … you can’t use “probably” in those things, right?)

Matt Murray was fantastic at times during Game 6, much like his counterpart in the Tampa Bay Lightning’s net in a 5-2 win. Granted, there were some tense moments during the Bolts’ late-game push:

Much has been made about experience, especially from those calling for Marc-Andre Fleury earlier in this series. It’s telling that the praise Murray draws sure sounds like what you’d expect from a “veteran.”

“He has a calming influence,” Sullivan said. “He doesn’t get rattled. If he lets a goal in, he just continues to compete. That’s usually an attribute that usually takes years to acquire that, and to have it at such a young age is impressive.”

Thanks in part to Murray’s efforts in Game 6, he’ll get a chance to prove his resolve in something new: a Game 7 in the Eastern Conference Final.

Once again, his teammates seem pretty confident in this elimination situation.

Lightning lament Game 6 effort, Cooper doesn’t blame disallowed goal

8 Comments

The Tampa Bay Lightning seemed to sleepwalk through the first two periods of Game 6, and waking up in the final frame wasn’t enough to edge the Pittsburgh Penguins.

On the bright side, at least the Lightning aren’t in denial about that weak first 40 minutes.

It seemed like everyone on the team more or less admitted as much in unison.

Brian Boyle added that he felt like the Lightning tiptoed around this game. Jon Cooper often provides great quips, yet he was pretty matter-of-fact in this case.

Many will linger on this disallowed goal for Jonathan Drouin, which would have provided a 1-0 lead for Tampa Bay in the first period.

Let’s face it; that moment came pretty early in the game. To Tampa Bay’s credit, they’re not pinning the loss on that setback.

Now they must set their sights on competing throughout Game 7 … and maybe earning some bounces of their own in the process.

Read more about Game 6 here.

Penguins force Game 7 after holding off Lightning rally

24 Comments

The Pittsburgh Penguins played with fire late in Game 6, but they also showed plenty of fire in beating the Tampa Bay Lightning 5-2.

With that, this thrilling Eastern Conference Final will go the distance with Game 7 on Thursday.

There are at least a few “What if?” scenarios to consider, especially for the Lightning.

What if that offside goal counted?

Jonathan Drouin played some fantastic hockey on Tuesday, yet his most memorable moment came via something that ultimately “didn’t happen.” An offside call on a goal review kept a 1-0 lead from happening for Tampa Bay:

Instead, the Penguins poured it on during the first period and eventually went up 1-0. They then carried that momentum over through the second period, adding two more goals to go up 3-0 heading into the final frame.

What if Tampa Bay played more like they did in the third period?

The difference between the level of play in the first 40 minutes and the final frame were night-and-day.

Now, you can make a chicken-and-the-egg argument here. Did the Penguins take their feet off the gas with that lead? Maybe Jon Cooper finally unleashed the hounds when the Lightning were facing a big deficit?

Maybe it’s a combination of those factors; either way, the Bolts couldn’t come all the way back even after making it interesting. At one point the game was 3-2 before a Bryan Rust breakaway goal and an empty-netter put things out of reach.

Both Matt Murray and Andrei Vasilevskiy faced plenty of tough chances and came through more often than not. We’ll see if there are any goal controversy rumblings, but each netminder came through at times tonight.

***

Now the series shifts back to Pittsburgh for Game 7 with a Stanley Cup Final on the line. Excited and/or nervous yet?

More: Great goals by Sidney Crosby and Phil Kessel.

Sidney Crosby scores a superstar goal

13 Comments

With the Pittsburgh Penguins’ season on the line in Game 6, plenty of eyes are on big guns Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, Kris Letang and Phil Kessel.

Those marquee names are really coming through so far as they’ve now built a 3-0 lead through two periods against the Tampa Bay Lightning.

You likely already saw Kessel’s display of high-end hand-eye coordination (if not, check it here). Kris Letang scored his first goal of the series to make it 2-0 on a very tricky, well-placed shot.

The highlight really might be Crosby’s tally, though. He left multiple Lightning players baffled and beat a very-much-game Andrei Vasilevskiy to beef that lead up 3-0.