When asked how he felt about Ondrej Pavelec being left off of ESPN’s top 25 goalies list, Winnipeg Jets head coach Claude Noel told the Winnipeg Free Press that he understood that slight considering the 26-year-old’s mediocre numbers. The most important thing to Noel is that he believes Pavelec is good enough to help the team contend, though.
“Yes, I am confident in our goaltending,” Noel said. “I think it’s good enough to help us get in the playoffs. But that’s part of the solution. Our players have to check better. We have to do some things better from the previous two years to get in the playoffs, and goaltending is going to have to also pick up.”
It’s unusual to see a head coach do anything but smother his No.1 guy (and other netminders) with praise, yet it’s understandable that Noel is straddling the line between being positive and applying some tough love.
After all, Pavelec’s career .907 save percentage and 91-99-28 record make it tough to rave all that much, so perhaps his bench boss is merely demanding more before he provides a glowing review.