October 07 2011 09:25AM
Part 3 of 3 of the pre-season analysis of the Jets roster using the Strength, Weakness, Opportunities, and Threats (SWOT) technique concludes with the goaltenders. Again, apologies for contradicting myself here and against the other 2 blogs however the writer try to stay away from black-and-white and deal in shades of grey (or maybe he is just wishy-washy).
Going forward, should the ever-mighty Nation Network overloads agree, look for this author to do a post-month overview of the Jets play after each calendar month ends with references back to the points made in these 3 articles.
1. Balanced Tandem:
Expected starter Ondrej Pavelec has great potential as a big, clearly talented man but has only played in 119 regular season games over the previous 4 years, thus should the 24-year old falter or need to learn from the bench, there is a solid second option. Chris Mason has played in the NHL dating as far back as 1998-99 with 286 games to his credit and just a few years removed from two fine seasons in St Louis and an up & down time in Nashville. Since the Red Deer native sports a laudable .911 careersave percentage and has handled three 50+ game seasons, he gives the Winnipeg squad another puckstopper to be the starter or just share the load as needed.
2. Rising Star (potentially):
While a bit short on NHL experience, Pavelec's big improvement in save percentage last year to .914 in 58 appearances from .906 S% in 42 appearances the year before bodes well for his future as does his increase in shutouts to 4 from 2. As well, a very strong World Championship run Pavelec for the Czech Republic where he went 6-1 with a .939 S% shows his progress against good competition is coming along.
1. Consistency Not Yet Established:
Astute observers including the writers for www.TheHockeyNews.com mention that neither young Pavelec nor Chris Mason have shown by their play or statistics that they can carry a team to continued success over a long season. To support this point you can see that in the 4 years where Mr. Pavelec has shared duties in Atlanta, the team has 13 less wins than losses (not counting extra-time losses). Meanwhile, Mr Mason did not establish himself as a starter in Nashville until age 30 and his play has levelled off since.
2. Big Load to Carry:
Not really the fault of the goaltending but the two men of the nets will expect to see a lot of shots against this year based on the fact that the dubious defense remains intact and last year they faced the 5th most shots in the league. Given those shot totals resulted in the 2nd worst goals against average, the same two tenders may end up with similar statistical performances this season. Further, playing in the Southeast division against top-scoring teams like Washington and Tampa Bay plus the Eric Stall-led Hurricanes may make the worklaod too much to ably handle in 2011-12.
1. Playing Away May Be OK?
Going against my own previous cautions for the young forwards about partying in Florida and the above warning about the talented teams in their division, I suppose the "no family & household distractions concept" could work for goaltenders given their personality differences from other players. A mantra of "just play, don't worry about anything else" may allow the road to be kinder to the Jets goalies when compared to the loudness of the MTS Centre and the distracting hometown attention and fawning local and Canada-wide media.
2. Just Do Enough:
The opportunity to let in 2 or 3 goals and win behind a young dynamic offense is certainly in place. Given the puck-moving talent from the defenders and the obvious forward talent of Ladd, Kane, Little and company (sounds like a law firm), perhaps the goalies just need to do enough such as preserving later-game leads. In this way, the netminders may keep the Winnipeggers in most games and allow them to challenge for the playoffs.
Should Pavelec and Mason not have the gumby-like flexibility of Mikka Kiprusoff or not avoid an unfortunate run-in with a fast-moving forward, an injury to either goalie could upset the season.
2. Team Collapse:
Should the team's heavily travels, inability to find chemistry, or even off-ice distractions lead to a bad atmosphere around the team, the goalies are likely to be caught up in it. This would stem from their offensive-minded defense tryings to win games by themselves by taking dangerous forays deep into the opposing zone and leaving the goalies to fend off two-on-ones and the like.
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