Pavelec Appears To Have The Upper Hand

Wednesday night, per C-Viv’s twitter, young Ondrej Pavelec will start in goal against the Nashville Predators. It’ll be his second start of the preseason and follows up his impressive performance in Tampa last Friday night where he stopped 29 of the 30 shots he faced in regulation…32 of 34 overall.

How do you feel about Pavelec starting the season in goal?

  • Great!... Opie is Da Man! (18%, 17 Votes)
  • Crossin' My fingers...hopin' for the best (62%, 58 Votes)
  • Oh brother... pass the Tums, please! (20%, 18 Votes)

Total Voters: 93

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Couple that with general manager Don Waddell’s statement at a season ticket holder event last week that he expects Pavelec to be the starter for the season opener…just a week and a half away, mind you…and it seems that Opie has the upper hand for the Thrashers’ main gig ‘tween the pipes at this time.

Now, I’m not going to feed you a load of male bovine excretion here by saying that this is making do cartwheels down the isles of Philips Arena. Truth be told, my initial impression is…Pavs? Really? Whiskey…Tango… Foxtrot!?!?

dodging cyber-bricks…Hey, hey now. Don’t get me wrong, gang. I like the kid and feel he’s got a lot of potential at this level. But I’m just a wee-bit concerned here about the Thrashers’ ability to get off to a decent start next month. And that concern is only deepened with the thought of Ondrej and his lifetime 6-10-0 record, 3.42 GAA and .880 SV% minding the store as we await Kari’s return. Personally, I think he still needs some seasoning in Chicago.

I won’t re-hash the abysmal stats from last winter…or discuss much those forgettable games he had against Boston and Pittsburgh, except to say that the memory of those less-than-stellar performances still loom large in my mind. But history doesn’t hold kindly Opie’s record in the NHL. Twice he’s been called upon to fill in when we’ve experienced a “Kari Down” moment. Both times he started off playing well…only to see his performance decline.

Of course, a lot of last season’s play could be attributed to a bad knee, which was addressed during the offseason. However, it is somewhat disconcerting that…given the fact he’s having to start because our oft-injured “goalie of the future” is once again on the shelf, nursing his back that was worked on in July…we are turning this over to a keeper who is, well… coming off an injury.

Again, I think the kid has a lot of talent…a ton of promise. He could very well wind up justifying the faith that the organ-I-zation has placed in him sometime in the not-too-distant-future. But this team cannot afford to dig it’s self into a deep hole to begin the season as it did last year. Given the schedule to begin the year, the one thing that can put them in just that position is inconsistent goaltending.

Also, seeing that there are two vets in camp, one who’s been with the club for a few years now and has earned his teammate’s respect…and how Pavs has performed when he’s been called upon…I can’t say that he’s the one I’d place my confidence in to start the season. I’d be more comfortable with the proven track record that comes with Legace or Moose at this time.

All that having been said… if indeed Opie is the keeper to start the season, I hope the kid proves me 100% wrong and guides the team to a winning record. As stated above, he did have a very good showing against the Bolts a few nights back and he’s got yet another chance Wednesday night to build upon that success. Maybe even a third chance this weekend.

Regardless, I know I’ll be there cheering the kid on.

Prayin’ to God…

Sending good vibes his way…

With my fingers crossed…

Hoping for the best…

Holding my rabbit’s foot…

And a four-leaf clover… if I can find one.

Because if he does perform up to his potential and helps the team get off to a good start…then the Thrashers will have an upper hand on a successful season.

79 comments Add your comment

Zoomo

September 22nd, 2009
8:04 pm

It may be a risky move. We really need to get off to a good start this year. If Opie gets the starts, I think we keep both Manny and Moose around in case Opie can’t handle the duties. Even if one of the backups is a phone call away in Chicago.

I’m inclined to have a vet in there to start us off, but I’m not a huge fan of the Moose – too much roaming for me – and I don’t know what Legace has left.

It’s definitely an interesting decision.

Dwayne

September 22nd, 2009
8:14 pm

I’m crossing my fingers, that the D holds the opposition to 25 shots or less. Is that reasonable? Sort of basing things on one PRE-season game with the (mostly) first team. I just do not know, is Manny going to get a serious look? Maybe he is there just to make Opie play harder, to think about what he has to do every day to hold onto to #1, if D Dub has indeed anointed him Sir Keeper of the Net. One other thing, funny how one pre-season win has US quiet about Waddell. Am I First??

sisu

September 22nd, 2009
8:46 pm

This is really interesting decision, not sure if Opie can do it but I hope I am wrong. To me it does not matter who the goalie is as long as the team wins…

The key is for the dmen to be there to limit the opposition to the initial shot unlike in the past where the goalies made the first save but then did not get the 3rd or 4th or 5th shot which resulted in a goal. This season it seems that the players are better prepared and who knows which 3 guys take up the 5 – 7 spots…

Midifeld

September 22nd, 2009
9:55 pm

Anybody can send a link for the on-line streaming of this next game?

Tony C.

September 22nd, 2009
10:01 pm

Eh.

I think that if Pavelec knows it’s his job, we’ll get craptastic results… now if McIntyre (that is the guy’s name from the Admirals right?) and Legace are sitting over his shoulder? I think we may just see the guy that makes Elliott get all giddy and man-crushy.

World Be Free

September 22nd, 2009
10:11 pm

To add to Tony C., I believe Pavs knows he’s getting a Mulligan for what happened in the first half of last year. He’s making the most of Kari’s surgery and the opening it creates in the position. This is not only his to lose, but possibly his career to lose as well. No winter rules here, if he blows this he may not get the chance to hit again.

There is a glut of average goalies out there. If Pavs is average in this chance, he may become the next Freddie Cassivi. McIntyre is in the on deck circle too.

From a team perspective, we get back to limiting shots on goal. Kari’s play picked up last year when our team defense improved, alot. Dwayne touched upon this; as we did at least night’s game. Gotta play better team “D”.

Brendan

September 22nd, 2009
10:21 pm

If Pavelec has hand, he’s gonna need it.

Darkhorse

September 22nd, 2009
10:24 pm

I would rather have Pavs start tomorrow and show everyone what he’s got one way or the other with still a couple of preseason games left. If the coaching staff thinks he’s the lead guy now, let him prove it, and if not, play Legace and Hedberg in the final two games and make a call come early next week.

Even with Legace yet to play in the preseason, I get the feeling the staff knows pretty much what to expect out of him based on his career, but with Pavs it’s still a bag of mixed pucks ya know…..

jared

September 23rd, 2009
12:05 am

its not even halloween yet and im scared, Pavs attitude worries me the most. I like how last year DeeDubya said our depth was in goal…. hah what a contrast to this year.
I do however ask one question: How did washington respond to Varmalov playing in the playoffs last year. I am sure they were less than thrilled before they praised him.

I took Varmalov in my fantasy league, a gamble but i think with a huge upside if he gets stamina
perhaps pavs can surprise us just as V did

Ilya's Dad

September 23rd, 2009
1:55 am

Just when I was getting full of confidence for this season. The thought of Pavs in goal to start the season scares me, especially with the long road trip after opening night. I hope they don’t dig a hole they can’t climb out of. Not to mention, Kovy is not signed long term. This could mess that up too, if it doesn’t work with Pavs………..

Sharon

September 23rd, 2009
4:09 am

I was hoping they’d roll with Legace as the starter. Pavs has potential, but I’m just not sure he’s ready for that role yet. We’ll see.

Sara

September 23rd, 2009
5:42 am

Here’s how it all breaks down for me.

Last fall was a long time ago. Pavs has had gotten more development time since then playing in Chicago.

It’s not as if Moose or Legace have posted such stellar numbers in their careers that either one should clearly be the number one guy. Now I’m a big fan of both of those guys, but not necessarily as our number one.

Pavs’ one game so far this year was stellar – so stellar in fact that the announcers for the other team spent much of the game raving about the kid.

Just because Anderson gives Pavs the starting gig doesn’t mean he’s going to feel complacent. There are already three goalies right behind him wanting that spot, and it won’t be all that long before Kari will be back to challenge as well. Pavs can’t afford to be complacent and I’ll bet he knows it.

I’m willing to give Pavs his shot here and I’m willing to have a little faith in him as well.

World Be Free

September 23rd, 2009
6:07 am

Sara-agreed, but he cannot afford to become complacent for one minute. This team needs to get off on the right foot starting October 3. If the goaltending faulters, then we are right back to last October-behind trying to catch up. He’s gotta play like a no. 1 and let Kari fight to get his job back. The other guys are backups.

Lee

September 23rd, 2009
6:58 am

is he starting tonight?

five_hole

September 23rd, 2009
7:39 am

Love the picture Bill. You just can’t go wrong with Seinfeld references.

I know what I’d get if Moose or Legace were between the pipes. Solid veteran performance; experience but aging reflexes. If the kid is getting his head together (and stopping 32 of 34 is a nice indicator), then let’s see what he can do. If he falters, we’ve always got the veterans to back him up.

Furmanisanidiot

September 23rd, 2009
8:12 am

I think Pav’s will struggle till he know’s the main guy in net, all this just filling in till someone comes and takes his place isn’t the best for a young goalie’s mind. Tell him he is number one and its his too lose and he will be fine.

Hip Czech

September 23rd, 2009
8:13 am

I was waiting for the new BT blog to comment on Monday’s game, so forgive me if all of this has been covered in another blog.

To me Popovic played his way into the top 7, barring falling flat on his face in the next week. But, Anderson seems to have confidence in him and Popovic seems to play well in ‘the system’. He definitely deserved the 3rd star Monday night.

Valabik looked not quite so lost, he probably has the inside track to the top 7 as well. Postma definitely has potential, but looks like some time in Chicago may help him with some decision making. I’d still like to see Salmella nail down the 7th spot based on what I saw in his limited time last year.

Seeing Legace in person didn’t inspire a whole lot of confidence, maybe it was the plain white goalie mask or the fact he looks to be a little like a doughboy, I don’t know…kind of reminded me of a kid in a youth league for some reason.

I say give Pavalec the opening night start, if he plays well in front of an opening night crowd ride him for the first few weeks, giving Hedberg every fourth game or so maybe.

Brendan

September 23rd, 2009
8:22 am

I like Sara’s post up above. I’m definitely rooting for Pavelec, too. As far a second round pick goes, I think Waddell did a good job with the selection.

(I heard that. We ALL know about the trade with the Rangers to move back to #16, from #12, which was orginially pick #8 in the 2005 draft. We’ve covered that enough. There comes a time when we have to stop analyzing the trade and just evaluate what we’ve got. Patrick Stefan was a ‘capable’ 3rd line Center, for example. You just have to forget his draft position. Moving right along.)

I’ve always thought that Pavelec would one day become a very capable NHL goalie. If that’s ALREADY this season, then GREAT! He’d be WAY AHEAD of schedule for his development. If he’s not ready, then I advocate more seasoning in the minors. I can’t see RUSHING PROSPECTS as healthy for the franchise. But if Pavelec is really ready, welcome aboard! Pavelec should be plenty motivated to becoming Atlanta’s #1 goalie.

I just hope Kari Lehtonen returns in shape, mentally-focused, and ready to contribute … WHENEVER it is that he makes his debut. I cannot recall where I read it, but I seem to remember Waddell saying words to the effect that Kari didn’t do a good job rehabbing the injury. Admittedly, I might misinterpreting that. Maybe what Waddell actually said was, “his rehab didn’t go as well as we hoped.” One implies Kari was at fault for not being diligent enough in his rehab efforts, the other suggests that it’s no one’s fault, per se, but that Kari hasn’t progessed as quickly as was hoped.

Toby

September 23rd, 2009
8:27 am

I was out on business and rented a car with XM, so I was attached to the Home Ice channel all day. In the afternoon, Don was a guest on the show. I was all ready to come back with new reports and breaking news. Not the case. Lame interview.

They talked about Don’s nickname when he played hockey (”Wadsey”), Espo, The team’s youth, Antropov’s performance in the Canes game, and the US Olympic team. No mention of the Kovy contract, the goalies, or even Afinogenov. Nothing.

Russ

September 23rd, 2009
8:28 am

I was thinking the same thing as Ilya’s Dad.

Franchise player waiting to sign an extension + franchise player wanting to see team improvement on the ice + goalie the most important position with reagards to winning and losing = a lot of pressure on young, unproven goalie.

I’ll hope for the best.

Glovesave29

September 23rd, 2009
8:31 am

Until Pavalec fixes his positioning problem, he will continue to falter in the NHL. He leans too far forwards, aiming his shoulders at the shooter as he readies for the shot, the crest resting on the top of his pads. He should be more upright, crest facing the shooter to make himself not only look bigger to the shooter, but to make his legs and arms in a position to make a save from a more suitable angle of movement (try leaning forward hard at the waist and raising your glove hand quickly to cover the high corner….you will see what I mean when you try it from a more upright position – you will only need move your arm, not your shoulder and torso like Pavs does). Since he leans forward soooo much, and he must move his torso more to make the save…if he creates a rebound, this torquing of his body often takes him out of position to face the second shot. Sure, a better defense here helps, but even the best teams cannot control all rebounds, and Opie needs to be there to bail them out now and again.

Jarndyce

September 23rd, 2009
8:53 am

I’d be much more worried if Waddell had said that Hedberg was going to going to be our #1.

Age is cruel, and it doesn’t really care about how swell you are as a person. Hedberg has gotten no better since last year, I can guarantee you that. Neither has Legace. Their legs are older and their reaction speed is down. Further, although you could argue increased experience and knowledge, neither player got a ton of games last year, so it would be reasonable to assume that neither has really improved in those areas.

Pavelec, on the other hand, is on the right side of the aging process. He’s 22. His reaction speed is getting faster, his legs stronger. He played in 52 games last season, so his experience level has improved. He dropped his his AHL goals against from 2.77 in 07-08, to 2.58 last year, despite facing the same number of shots per game. One could argue that his technical abilities have improved, as well.

So the question is, do you want to see a 3.42ga/.900 goalie who’s gotten better, or a 3.47ga/.900 goalie who’s gotten worse? [Remarkable, isn't it, that Pavelec and Hedberg have such similar NHL stats over the last two seasons? If you compare just the games from last season's start, the two are identical: 3.55ga/.895.]

Jarndyce

September 23rd, 2009
9:03 am

Glovesave: I’m curious to know whether you’ve seen Pavelec in camp or preseason. If so, has he seemed to have improved at all on the technical, positioning aspect of the game as you described above? I’d be very interested to get your thoughts about that.

ben

September 23rd, 2009
9:58 am

looks like a changing of the gaurd is on us

Thrashers27

September 23rd, 2009
10:26 am

I don’t think this means we can write Kari off just yet. Despite his knack for injury and lack of focus at times he is a very talented, young man. Keep in mind Kari started playing in the NHL at what, 20? He was young and he still is young. Remember, goalies take longer to “ferment”.

For the first time ever there is a bonified defensive core to play in front of the Thrasher’s net. I’d like to see how well Kari’s numbers look when the team restricts SOG to under 30 every night. Kari, like the rest of the team seemed to “right his ship” toward the end of the season last year.

Here’s to hoping that he has matured enough to compete for and hold that #1 spot in goal. Afterall, I don’t think anyone will argue that he isn’t the best raw talent this team has at that position.

Nate

September 23rd, 2009
10:32 am

Rawhide – Any update on Kovalchuk negotiations. I’m getting less optimistic by the day…

Midifeld

September 23rd, 2009
10:41 am

Remember the Varlamov story last year. Young and unproven golie turned out to be a savior for the Caps, not to mention the maturity he displayed throughout the run. He had one bad bubble in one of the games against the Rangers, and – unlike some other not so young golies we know – Varlamov bounced right back in and carried that game to the winning end.

Hockey Biltong

September 23rd, 2009
10:46 am

Kovy will sign, wait for the splash!!!

Daculafan

September 23rd, 2009
10:47 am

This potential move worries me..and quite frankly I’m not too crazy with what this says to Legace either..DrewMac, Moose and Opie have all gotten a shot..and to skip over Manny and let Opie do it again I think is a little insulting. From all reports from the rink he’s looked good, I think he deserves his shot between the pipes and let’s see if he’s got what it takes to backstop this team.

Glovesave29 just reiterated above his assessment that he and I and Daren Elliot discussed after last Tuesday’s rookie game at the Forum. Like I pointed out…Glove has got approx 35 years of amateur experience..and Daren professional experience..and Daren totally agreed with Glove’s assessment. For me that’s enough to cause me some worry. I hope Opie does a good job…but I’m not 100% sold on him.

I’m hoping to see Manny make at least one start… I think after all the work he’s done in the camp he deserves that shot..

Kudos to you Rawhide for the Seinfeld reference….classic!!

Rawhide

September 23rd, 2009
11:00 am

Rawhide – Any update on Kovalchuk negotiations. I’m getting less optimistic by the day…

Nate – No new news…however, I’m more confident he’ll sign here than I was last spring.

Remember the Varlamov story last year. Young and unproven golie turned out to be a savior for the Caps, not to mention the maturity he displayed throughout the run. He had one bad bubble in one of the games against the Rangers, and – unlike some other not so young golies we know – Varlamov bounced right back in and carried that game to the winning end.

Midfield – So are you saying that Varlamov last spring = Pavelec this fall? If so…I hope you are right. That kid was lights out in the playoffs…very impressive.

World Be Free

September 23rd, 2009
11:11 am

Pavs has to earn the no. 1 spot. It’s that simple, no hoping he stays no. 1 after Kari returns. Play his best and keep the spot from other players. Only then will he have the confidence to be an NHL goalie. This position is not for the faint of heart.

R. Stroz

September 23rd, 2009
11:35 am

If both Popovic and Afinogenov end up with a goal and/or an assist, does that mean we will have Unknown Player 1 and Unknown Player 2?

You’re now entering the Thrasher Zone.

Rawhide

September 23rd, 2009
11:39 am

Here are the lineups tonight as I understand them per Ben Wright…

Forwards
Kovalchuk- Antropov- Little
Fritsche- Peverley-Crabb
Kane- Stapleton- Afinogenov
Gratton- Slater- Thorburn

Defense
Bogosian
Enstrom
Kubina
Valabik
Oystrick
Popovic

Goal
Pavelec
Legace

GaVaHokie

September 23rd, 2009
11:39 am

Stroz… I can’t wait to see Unknown’s save percentage in the next preseason game. :)

Midifeld

September 23rd, 2009
11:53 am

Rawhide, I’m not really saying that Pavelec=Varlamov. I’m saying that Lehtonen is not #1 goalie for all intents and purposes. I’m also saying that it is not because Lehtonen was “young and unproven” that he is not capable of playing the role #1 goalie consistently. I agree that Pavelec has technical kinks to address, but, on the other hand, he looks mentally there to fight – kind of like Nurminen used to be. I like that better than the technical prowess that you can’t always rely on, when the chips are down.

Glovesave29

September 23rd, 2009
11:56 am

Jarndyce – unfortunately, Opie’s still leaning forward. Just makes him too vulnerable to the corners against NHL sharpshooters. Check Kari’s stats in the AHL – they were better than Pavalec’s, and he is superior technically. We are never going to be a strong team in the net until we (here we go again) get a goaltending coach. Makes all the difference. Was anyone really surprised the Monster signed in Toronto just after guru Francois Allaire moved from the Ducks to the Leafs? We need a similat coach here to work on the game on the physical, emotional and conditioning levels. What’s good for a forward/defenseman doesn’t work for a goalie. All that money is tied up in the net, let’s get someone here to help us to get a full return on our investments.

Daculafan – thanks for the backup. Preeeshiate it!

Glovesave29

September 23rd, 2009
12:06 pm

But Midi – how can he address them? There is no one there to work on this with him. And it is not a “kink”…this is huge. His arms are slower because he must lift his shoulders, and with his weight being forward on his skates, he cannot kick out fast enough. Remember, goal skates are flat and not rockered. If he’s leaning, there’s more skate blade to resist his movements. To make up for that, you go into a deeper butterfly. Forwards see this and will make the necessary adjustments and rocket shots upstairs. While unorthodox goalies like Nurminen and Hasek will always exist, they are also positionally sound, and square up to the shooter properly. Ondrej doesn’t, and it will continue to haunt him until it is fixed.

World Be Free

September 23rd, 2009
12:29 pm

Glovesave-right on, golatending coaches are like pitching coaches.
Have a superior coach of either kind makes difference.

Daculafan

September 23rd, 2009
12:53 pm

Here’s where I’m hoping…as I have heard whispers of rumors…that the Thrashers have plans for the Moose beyond his playing days. I could so totally see Moose as our goalie coach…and with the way he works…his demands on any goalie he coaches would be high…I think it would produce a heck of a product

I guess judging their performance will be easiest once the lineup we put on the ice and the one we face are as close to regular season as we can get.

Smoothie

September 23rd, 2009
12:54 pm

Does anyone here know the minimum # of months a player has to stay on I.R. in order to qualify for LTIR cap relief? What happens if Lehtonen’s rehab and conditioning takes more than another month? Can he go on short-term IR if we are carrying 3 goalies (per Dan Kamal tweet we will be keeping 3)? Perhaps Legace knows he is strictly our insurance policy in the event Pavelec tanks.

Smoothie

September 23rd, 2009
12:56 pm

Moose has already taught Kari the patented poke-check and roll move for breakaways that get too close to the paint. In the last game in Buffalo, Kari saved the game by poking and cart-wheeling in the crease a la Dominick Hasek circa 1999.

World Be Free

September 23rd, 2009
1:30 pm

Could Moose retire REAL soon and assume the coach’s role?
Makes sense now.

Christy

September 23rd, 2009
1:59 pm

Question – is Steve Weekes NOT the goalie coach? or is it that they have him fill that role because they don’t have anyone else to do it?

GaVaHokie

September 23rd, 2009
2:04 pm

Interesting comments from Coach today…

http://thrashers.nhl.com/club/news.htm?id=499508&navid=DL|ATL|home

Glovesave29

September 23rd, 2009
2:11 pm

Steve Weeks runs the drills in practice. I’ve been to countless practices and can remember him working specifically with the goalies for an extended period of time maybe only once or twice.

Moose could be a good coach…we won’t know until at least next season. Ollie the goalie retired today…perhaps bring him in?

Christy

September 23rd, 2009
2:13 pm

Christy

September 23rd, 2009
2:13 pm

Rather, thank you Glovesave

Pam on Weck

September 23rd, 2009
2:21 pm

Glovesave29 – Amazing. You make a comment about Pavs and look at the picture they choose to print. Have you ever seen such shoulders?

simon

September 23rd, 2009
2:45 pm

This is the first time in Thrashers history that there is a real competition on every position.

R. Stroz

September 23rd, 2009
3:15 pm

Step Right Up:

I have ONE extra ticket for tonight for a regular poster.

Rawhide please get Trixie to handle the arrangements.

Requirements: I need you to be able to meet me in CNN center by 6:15.