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Jets netminder Pavelec once again facing too many shots as team works on defence

The Hockey News

The Hockey News

WINNIPEG - The Winnipeg Jets know exactly how much goaltender Ondrej Pavelec has contributed to their 2-1-0 start this season.

"Well over 50 (per cent)," coach Claude Noel said Tuesday after practice, where the Jets were looking at ways to cut down the scoring chances they've been giving away.

"We know where we are. We have mirrors ... in our locker-room that we look at. We know what's happened, we can see that and that's why we're trying to focus on details.

It's early but the Jets have been outshot 108-77 in their first three games. This isn't entirely a new sensation for the Czech-born netminder.

Last season he was second in the league in the shots he faced and the Jets have built a reputation as slow starters. For Noel, the issue of shots isn't just the big number.

"Shots are one thing, they're not always the indicator for me. There's teams that get shots. It's more shots relating to scoring chances. If the shots are 15 and you're giving up five scoring chances, that's not good."

And defenceman Mark Stuart says the cure involves a lot more than just blocking pucks in front of Pavelec. They have to stop those shots from being taken.

"We should be good positionally and good enough defensively where we're not giving up shots, that many shots where you're trying to block everything," he said.

"You should be taking away passing lanes, you should be closing on people in the slot where that guy doesn't even have an opportunity to get a shot off."

Centre Bryan Little said communication is important.

"Last couple of games we were getting badly outshot and outchanced and I think we were just kind of running around in (our) own end a bit and not communicating," he said.

"When you're giving up as many chances as we have lately, it's a big problem and you know we've been kind of fortunate to have Pavs playing as good as he has."

Another part of the problem is the first-period shot differential, which looks even worse. The Jets have been outshot 48-20 overall in the first period over three games.

"We all have to be responsible for that, not only the players," said Noel. "It's a reflection of the preparation of the room and the coaches preparing the room and the head coach preparing the room and all of us have to be accountable for that.

"It will change. We will get it squared around because it's not going to go like this."

Pavelec is also confident the team will turn things around.

"We're trying, it's not like we don't care," he said. "We're working at it. It's going to take time. We know we've got to be ready. We realize that and I'm pretty sure we're going to be way better next game."

Whether or not Pavelec will get a rest this week is another issue. With back-to-back games Thursday and Friday, Noel didn't rule out backup Al Montoya seeing some action.

"We'll just have to wait and see but that's a good question," he said.

The lockout-shortened 2012-13 season saw Pavelec play a league-high 44 games as the Jets fought for a playoff spot they missed by four points.

They play in Minnesota on Thursday night. The Wild (0-0-2) are new divisional opponents as the Jets move from the old Southeast to the Central Division.

On Friday, the Jets will play another divisional foe as the Dallas Stars (1-1-0) visit the MTS Centre.

"The division games are important because you know in your division the top three teams are going to get a bye into the playoffs," said Noel. "They're four-point games if you can get them clean."


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