WINNIPEG – The pressure of a compressed NHL season is nothing to worry about, according to Winnipeg Jets goaltender Ondrej Pavelec.
After all, he’s been through it before.
“Three years ago in Atlanta, when it was Olympics 2010, the Olympic season, it was the same schedule I would say, we played every second day for three months,” Pavelec said Tuesday after Day 3 of Jets camp Tuesday.
“I think we will handle it pretty good.”
The NHL was compressed to handle a two-week shutdown in February.
If he has his way, Pavelec would play every one of the 48 regular-season games that have been scheduled, but he says he hasn’t discussed that issue with coach Claude Noel.
“It’s up to the coach to decide who is going to be in the net,” he said. “Only (thing) I can do is play hard as I can, try my best and hopefully it’s going to work.”
Noel has pegged goaltending and managing injuries as the two most important elements if the Jets want to succeed this year. They missed the playoffs last season, the first in Winnipeg for the relocated Atlanta Thrashers.
Backup Al Montoya has been brought in to replace Chris Mason. Montoya is under no illusions about his role and also has no idea how many games he may see.
“It’s always about being ready,” he said. “Who knows when your number is going to be called?”
A game every other day is going to be tough for all players, but it means a lot more minutes for a goaltender.
Pavelec is already one of the hardest working netminders in the NHL after playing 68 games in 2011-12, tying with Antti Niemi and Cam Ward for the fifth most games played by a goalie last season.
His goals-against average of 2.91 and save percentage of .906 are well down in the rankings, but he also faced a lot more shots than Noel would have liked. Pavelec was fifth overall in terms of saves with 1,845.
He says his personal goal this season is just to help the team make the playoffs.
Despite the thought of a game every other day, Pavelec insists he can’t worry about injuries.
“Once you worry about injuries, it’s probably coming,” he said. “I don’t think about it. I was healthy all year last year . . . It’s going to (depend on) how you rest in the practice days, so we’ll see.”
Injuries have hit the Jets at training camp with Antti Miettinen out for an indefinite period after he was hurt Monday.
Nik Antropov showed up with an injury Noel believes he sustained in the KHL during the lockout/ He hasn’t practised this week and remains uncertain for the first game Saturday.
Lines are starting to shape up, although the coach has said it’s too early to say how long matchups will last.
Power forward Alexei Ponikarovsky, signed as a free agent in the off-season, has been playing with junior call-up Mark Scheifele and Alex Burmistrov on what could become the team’s third line.
Ponikarovsky says he knows what his young linemates are going through. Burmistrov played last year in Winnipeg but was sent to the Jets AHL farm team to get more experience during the lockout.
“I was there before, you just try your best,” Ponikarovsky said.
“You go out there, you work your butt off, trying to finish all your checks, play hard, be aggressive on the puck.”
The Jets already had speed on their forward lines but Ponikarovsky (six-foot-four and 225 pounds) and their other free-agent signing, Olli Jokinen (six-two, 210), add a little more size as well.