There arguable is not a larger lightning rod within the Jets locker room than Ondrej Pavelec. The Jets netminder seems to have the ability to split the fanbase like
Byfuglien pushing through a crowd to get to the buffet the cities streets after a cold winter. (Skinny Byfuglien is way less fun).
I cannot think of a player on any other team that is built up as a God by half it's fans, while the other half has their blood pressure skyrocket at the very mention of his name. How is it possible that you can have this and this written only a few months apart! So the question remains, who is Ondrej Pavalec?
The numbers don't look pretty over the past two seasons. His save percentage and GAA have regressed since the team moved to Winnipeg. He posted careers best numbers in both categories in his final season in Atlanta with 2.73 GAA and .914 SV% yet those numbers, average as they are, did not stand true north of the border. His 2.80 and .905% are not the numbers of a franchise goaltender as his 5 year $19.5 million dollar would suggest. But who is right? Is it the nerds who see binary code when they watch a TSN Jets broadcast? Or is it the gargoyles of the press box that have forgotten more than we could ever know about hockey and whose eye test is so bullet proof that no scrub could ever pass by accident? Well this hack writing in his parents basement is going to attempt to add some clarity to the situation.
Ladies and Gentlemen, I bring you #PavWatch
The idea is simple. I will give Pavelec a clean slate. I started off as a Pavelec supporter in his first season as a Jet, then, as year two came around my faith started to waiver until ultimately I no longer believed that he was the right guy for the job moving forward. But going into this season I will do my best to be objective and determine the following after each game:
Were the goals allowed soft/a result of poor positioning, fair, or a result of the team letting him down?
When I first proposed this idea on Twitter, predictably, holes were immediately poked in it.
@Cavsanada Then you'd have to also look at other teams and see if ours would be elevated compared to others, wouldn't you?— Pitty_Da_Fool (@Pitty_Da_Fool) September 29, 2013
I hate when other people are right.
But unfortunately I am employed and try to maintain something that resembles a life. So rather than pour over countless hours of game film from around the league I came up with another variation of my previous idea. Track how many goals fall into each category for both Pavelec as well as for the opposing goalie. While this system is far from flawless, it can help provide us with a picture of how many games Pavelec won/ cost us compared to our competition.
As I will be relying primarily on the eye test for this exercise, and considering hockey can be a very subjective sport, I will be welcoming feedback from all of the Jets faithful. If you are on Twitter weigh in on each goal using the hashtag #PavWatch to weigh in on where you feel each goal allowed by the Jets or scored for the team. Part of the fun of being a fan comes from being optimistic. I hope that Pavelec can become more consistent and make the most of his talent, as it is hard to claim that he is devoid of it. But it is irresponsible to make claims about the reasons for a players success or failure without diving deeper into what factors contribute into the results.
On a personal note, I would like to thank all the writers/ nerds at AIH for giving me the opportunity to write here. I've lived in Winnipeg my whole life and love this city even though it has been an abusive partner to me. This is a great community and I'm looking forward to being more involved in it and hopefully contribute to the growth and success of this site. I'm never afraid to admit when I'm wrong so feel free to tell me whenever that is the case. Here's to another NHL season and hopefully we see the success that this city desperately craves.