After a year in which he shared the starting gig and was swept out of the playoffs, Ondrej Pavelec has received another vote of confidence as the Jets’ go-to guy.
“We’re excited to have him as our No. 1 goalie,” GM Kevin Cheveldayoff said Friday, during his end-of-season media availability. “We’re really excited to have [Michael Hutchinson] as a guy that can push and continue to do the things that he’s done.”
To be fair, Cheveldayoff made a similar proclamation at the end of last season and while Pavelec did eventually emerge the No. 1, it was no slam dunk.
The two goalies split time this year — Pavelec had 46 starts to Hutchinson’s 36 — and, in late February/early March, the Czech netminder was bolted to the pine with Hutchinson the goalie of record in nine of 11 games. Pavelec did eventually win the No. 1 gig for the playoffs, thanks to a string in early April where he posted three consecutive shutouts.
While he couldn’t be blamed for the four-game sweep at the hands of Anaheim, his numbers at the end of the series — .891 save percentage, 3.73 GAA — were hardly the stuff of a sure-fire No. 1.
Perhaps that’s why Cheveldayoff hedged his bet a little bit. While he insisted Pavelec is still the club’s starter, he also said Jets are looking for Hutchinson to be a factor.
“It’s not just about Ondrej being the number one goalie,” Cheveldayoff explained. “Part of the reason we were able to accomplish what we were is the strength that both of them had.
“You have to preach team. You have to know the ultimate success of the team is not going to come because you play 80 games. You have to have someone else that can play.”