The Winnipeg Jets are hitting the road for a five-game road trip and Ondrej Pavelec is tagging along too.
The starting goalie went down with a knee injury on Nov. 21 during a game against the Arizona Coyotes. But Pavelec is making progress and is on schedule to return mid-to-late January or early February at the very latest, leaving head coach Paul Maurice with some tough decisions to make.
According to Paul Friesen of the Winnipeg Sun, Pavelec is expected to travel with the team when it embarks on a five-game road trip starting Thursday night against the Coyotes.
Paul Maurice says Ondrej Pavelec will travel with #NHLJets on upcoming road trip. May not hit the ice, though.
— Paul Friesen (@friesensunmedia) December 29, 2015
Maurice told reporters that Pavelec’s presence on the road trip “allows us to really monitor the progress he’s made and to keep working.”
When Pavelec was sidelined last month, it opened the door for rookie Connor Hellebuyck, who has been nothing short of spectacular through 10 starts. Hellebuyck has posted a 7-3-0 record with a stellar .932 save percentage.
Michael Hutchinson, who struggled to hang on to the starting job when Pavelec went down, is having an off year but has proved he’s more than capable of stepping in and being a No. 1 goalie as well.
So who’s the odd man out? Well, according to Maurice, he’s not opposed to rolling with three goalies the rest of the way.
From the Winnipeg Sun:
“It’s going to be an interesting dynamic. We’ve got a young goaltender (Hellebuyck) that’s played well and deserved to play. I’ve got lots of faith in Michael Hutchinson. And we all have a strong memory of Ondrej Pavelec at the most critical time in our season last year running off five wins, and stealing two or three of them. It’s a good problem to have.”