It can be argued Ondrej Pavelec got the Winnipeg Jets to where they are right now. However, at the end of the day, ninth place is not where anyone wants to be.

Pavelec certainly didn't hold the Jets back this season, but until this team becomes more defensively reliable, he'll have to do more or the playoffs will continue to be the talk of fantasy.

Pavelec is a capable goalie but the fact remains this team is once again on the wrong side of the goals-for and goals-against line. The Jets have scored 109 goals while allowing 123 for a minus-14 differential. All eight teams ahead of Winnipeg in the Eastern Conference are plus teams in the same category.

Lumping all of that on Pavelec would be ridiculous.

In fact, the opposite is true. Without Pavelec, that number would be much worse.



But the goalie must accept his part. It's the reality of the position.

One night after a Jets road game this season in which Pavelec had been particularly sharp, I made a positive comment to Jets assistant GM Craig Heisinger about the performance.

"That's his job," was all Heisinger could squeeze out.

It's true. No team in the NHL will be successful without top-end goaltending. It's the expectation. Not to steal games but to keep a team in position to win.

Letting in three or four a night, as has happened a little too often to the Jets this season, doesn't equate to wins. In 12 losses this season, Pavelec allowed four or more goals. Again, he faced an onslaught of shots in those games and he's only the last line of defence.

The players in front of him need to be better. But so does Pavelec.

It's been said of Pavelec, as he goes so do the Jets. Well, his record is 21-19-3 and that doesn't appear to be good enough to get Winnipeg into the playoffs.

Imagining the Jets without Pavelec doesn't leave one with a warm and fuzzy feeling.

"Goaltending is 70 per cent of hockey. Until you have none and then it's 100 per cent," goes the old NHL axiom.

Until GM Kevin Cheveldayoff and coach Claude Noel can improve the players and the play in front of Pavelec, he's going to need to be other-worldly.

The question is, can he raise his level enough to push the Jets over the line?

From this vantage point, Pavelec gets a B for his performance this season. The Jets will need him to be an A if they are going to become more than an outsider come playoff time.

Pavelec is 37th in the league with a 2.77 goals- against average and he's 33rd in the league with a .906 save percentage. He's been ordinary at best in shootouts, earning two wins against three losses while allowing six goals on 21 shots with a .714 save percentage.

Those numbers, however, tell just one part of the story. Pavelec has faced 1,221 shots, second only to Ryan Miller of the Buffalo Sabres.