Caps Seek to Solve PavelecPosted on January 14, 2013 by Mike Vogel
Last season, the Capitals had more than their fair share of struggles against the Atlanta Thrashers. Playing out their final season in the city of Atlanta, the Thrashers earned points in five of their six games (4-1-1) with Washington, and they kept the Caps off the scoreboard entirely in two of those contests. The main reason for Atlanta’s dominance over Washington last season was the play of goaltender Ondrej Pavelec. It’s no surprise that when the Caps do battle with the relocated-to-Winnipeg-Thrashers-turned-Jets tonight at MTS Center in Manitoba’ capital city, they’ll have to face Pavelec. For the affable jets netminder, tonight marks his 11th consecutive start. “Everybody wants to play,” says Pavelec. “Everybody wants to play the game. I’m really happy I can play. It’s nice to see he trusts me. It’s always going to be up to the coach who’s going to be in the net. But I like to play. We’ve played a couple of times back-to-back, so I like it. We’ll see what’s going to happen next game. I like to play, I am ready whenever they tell me to play.” Lifetime, Pavelec has a 4-8 mark with two shutouts, a 2.99 GAA and a .911 save pct. But he owned the Capitals last season, going 3-1 in four starts against Washington with a pair of shutouts, an 0.55 GAA and a .984 save pct. “It’s a different year, a different game,” says Pavelec of facing a team he’s had recent success against. “It’s probably a big game for us against a big team. We’ve got to be ready as a team for them and play the way we played last game and we should be fine.” Like both Caps goalies Tomas Vokoun and Michal Neuvirth, Pavelec is a native of the Czech Republic. He is very familiar with both Washington netminders. “I play with Tomas a couple of times on the [World] championship and in the Olympics,” says Pavelec. “I know Neuvirth from the national team. They’re good goalies. It’s nice to play against two Czech goalies from one team. It’s going to be exciting.” The Caps hope captain Alex Ovechkin and winger Alexander Semin can get back on track offensively against a franchise they’ve had success against in the past. Ovechkin has 30 goals and 63 points in 42 career contests against the Winnipeg franchise. Semin has 17 goals and 34 points in 31 career games against the team now known as the Winnipeg Jets. “You’ve just got to keep him to the outside,” says Jets defenseman Zach Bogosian of playing against Ovechkin. “He likes to cut to the middle. He’s a righty that likes to come down the left side a lot and cut to the middle. We’ve got to block a lot of shots on him; he likes to shoot everything. We’ve got to make sure we keep those shots to the outside.” Neuvirth gets the start for Washington tonight. He is 5-1 with a 2.78 GAA and a .917 save pct. in seven career appearances (six starts) against the Winnipeg franchise.
Watching last night’s game against Winnipeg, I wasn’t focusing on why the Caps gave up what goals or what happened on this play or that. I was just noticing that they didn’t look to me like a particularly difficult team to play against. When I went into the room afterwards, I didn’t ask about why