“In Tampa we kept them to a low number of shots, but they missed the net on a few… not 20, but there’s a bunch of shots off good shooters’ sticks that if they’re under the bar, they’re in,” Maurice said, per the Winnipeg Free Press.
“So, we need some saves mixed in there, too.”
This will be the first time Ondrej Pavelec will start consecutive games since Nov. 20 and 23
Eventful Monday in Winnipeg — the Jets welcomed back a pair of defensemen, but lost another one for a significant length of time.
First, the returnees: Dustin Byfuglien and Tyler Myers were back at it, with Myers declaring himself “good to go” for tomorrow’s game against San Jose after sitting Saturday’s big win over Tampa Bay; Byfuglien said it was too soon to tell if he’d be back, having missed the last four contests.
For Postma, the news was far less encouraging.
The 26-year-old, who returned to the Jets lineup on Saturday after a lengthy stint in the press box, played very well — getting over 23 minutes of action — but suffered a lower-body injury, with a timetable for return of “weeks, not days, even on the positive end of it,” per today’s update from head coach Paul Maurice.
That puts Postma on the shelf with fellow blueliners Byfuglien, Ben Chiarot and Grant Clitsome, and could sideline him for the remainder of the regular season. Postma had appeared in 42 games this season, scoring six points.
The Jets are in a fight for their playoff lives, and Tuesday’s tilt against the Sharks will be a significant contest in terms of Western Conference postseason jockeying. San Jose is four points back of Winnipeg for the final wild card, though it’s possible both the Sharks and Jets could be on the outside of the playoff picture looking in by tomorrow; with a win over Arizona tonight, Los Angeles would take the wild card lead.
Hutchinson or Pavelec — who should the Jets go with down the stretch?
Interesting tidbit this morning from the Globe and Mail’s James Mirtle, who notes that the Winnipeg Jets “have the worst team save percentage in the NHL in their last 20 games (.881).”
Not surprisingly, the Jets won just eight of those games (and only five in regulation). As a consequence, they’ve seen their playoff chances fall from around 93 percent at the All-Star break to just 46.3 percent today, per Sports Club Stats.
Rookie Michael Hutchinson, such a pleasant surprise earlier in the season, has really been struggling. His save percentage in February was a lowly .898. And it’s been even lower in March, just .845 in four appearances.
That has many wondering if coach Paul Maurice should start turning more to much-maligned veteran Ondrej Pavelec, who stopped 15 of 16 shots in Saturday’s 2-1 win in Tampa Bay.
“This hasn’t been an easy week,” Pavelec said afterward, per the Winnipeg Free Press. “Sometimes it doesn’t go the way you want it. What happened in St. Louis, before the goal…
… I felt really good in that game. That thing happened at a bad time. After that, I didn’t know if I was even going to get another chance to play. I was trying to put it behind me. But it was in my head, for sure. You can say whatever you want, but it’s there. So you just try to put it behind you. It wasn’t going away. Maybe now it has.”
The Jets have a couple of tough home games this week, against a desperate San Jose team Tuesday and a very strong St. Louis club Thursday.
We’ll have to wait and see how Maurice handles the goaltending duties going forward. But if the Jets end up missing the playoffs again, and it’s again due in the large part to the goaltending, expect plenty of questions for GM Kevin Cheveldayoff, who went into the season with a starter that hasn’t been good in a number of years and a totally unproven rookie as the backup.
Kucherov was assessed a five minute major for boarding and a game misconduct during the third period of Saturday’s 2-1 Jets victory.
You can see the hit here:
Jacob Trouba jumped in and received a minor penalty for roughing and misconduct on the play.
“He gets to do that,” said Jets’ coach Paul Maurice of Trouba. “We put our gloves back on and drop the puck. There’s nothing else left. I don’t think that’s a decision. I don’t think anybody sees that and then thinks through the next 30 seconds to two minutes. It’s just on.
“Tough pill to swallow, [Toby] goes down and [Trouba] gets 12 minutes worth of penalties.”
Enstrom returned late in the game.
“It’s huge, not just to get him back on the ice in the game and preserve the win, but to know that he’s not going to be out for the next 3-4 weeks with a hit from behind like that,” said Maurice. “That could’ve just as easily been a defenseman done for the season.”
For a while there, it looked like Nikita Kucherov might have made the difference for the Tampa Bay Lightning on Saturday. Some would counter that he eventually did so for the Winnipeg Jets, instead.
Kucherov scored his 26th goal of 2014-15 in the third period to finally break the ice in Saturday’s game, yet his major penalty for boarding Tobias Enstrom opened the door for Winnipeg to tie the contest and eventually win 2-1.
Here’s video of the check:
Enstrom returned late in the contest, and some argue that the Jets blueliner put himself in a vulnerable position on the check, for whatever that’s worth. Kucherov described the situation as an accident:
Kucherov called his hit an accident. "It happened so fast."
It’s probably not totally fair to pin things on Kucherov, really, especially since it was such a close game before he scored his goal and took that penalty.
Regardless, the bottom line is that Drew Stafford scored the tying tally on the power play and Blake Wheeler notched the game winner.
One other sure thing: the Jets moved back into the West’s final wild card spot … at least as of this writing. The Jets now have 80 points with 69 games played while the Los Angeles Kings are at 79 points in 67 contests (with their 68th just underway against the Nashville Predators).
Perhaps Ondrej Pavelec feels a touch amused by this situation? During the same week that he gave up a turning point goal, he saw the opposing team take a self-destructive penalty to help his team win.
“I was trying to put it behind me. But it was in my head, for sure. You can say whatever you want but it’s there." #NHLJets Ondrej Pavelec