Upcoming Goalies for the Avs to Watch


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The Colorado Avalanche have a busy week coming up. They play the struggling Winnipeg Jets in Winnipeg, come home to face the middling San Jose Sharks and take on the surprisingly strong Islanders.

The Avalanche offense has been kickstarted, helped in no small part by their increased shot output. Make no mistake, everyone from sniper Matt Duchene to rookie Zach Redmond can score goals. However, they are facing some tough goalies in the coming week.

Ondrej Pavelec, Winnipeg Jets

The Avs didn’t face Pavelec last season — for some reason, backup goalie Al Montoya always got the start against Colorado. Right now, Jets fans don’t think too much of him, with his 2.71 goals against average and .899 save percentage over seven games. However, the Avs would be unwise to dismiss him — this is a talented goalie with a lot to prove right now.


Pavelec is calm under pressure. If the Avs pepper him — and here’s hoping they do — he’s not going to get rattled. He reads the play well and has superb puck-stopping instincts. He’s big — 6-foot-3, 220 pounds — so he takes up a lot of net. Yet he’s quick like a smaller man. He is very athletic.


He can be inconsistent. His conditioning has been a problem in the past, though he came back from the summer break this season in excellent shape. He sometimes plays deep in the net, and high shots beat him.


The Avs snipers are going to be a problem for Pavelec. With shooters like Duchene and Iginla able to pick their spots to shoot, they might just have a big afternoon in Winnipeg. That’s not to say players shouldn’t attempt to bang in a puck — it’s just less likely to get past his hulk.

San Jose Sharks

The Sharks have a solid one-two punch in Antti Niemi and Alex Stalock, but they jury’s still out on who their #1 is — neither has been terrific lately, though they both have good save percentages: .903 and .933 respectively. No telling which goalie the Avs will face, so let’s look at both.


Like Pavelec, Niemi is unflappable. He’s big, and he comes up with the huge saves that keep his team in a game. Stalock plays an athletic butterfly style, increasing his mobility. He reads plays and always plays a full 60 minutes — and then some, if necessary.


Niemi has a tendency to give up rebounds. He’s not consistent — as evidenced by this year’s start — and can get caught out of position. Stalock’s on the small size for a goalie — 6-foot, 190 pounds — and he can get beat on the angles. While athletic and hard-working, he’s not necessarily the most talented of goalies.


Drive the net and bang the pucks at either goalie. Odds are either Niemi of Stalock can be beaten with an ugly goal — and we all know those count the same as pretty ones.

Jaroslav Halak, New York Islanders

Remember when the New York Islanders were one of the worst teams in the league? It seems just like last season. Oh, wait, it was last season. Well, the Isles are coming out like the Avs did last season — ready to prove the world wrong, and that makes them a tricky foe. Part of the change comes from upgrading their goalies, signing Halak and backup goalie Chad Johnson, formerly of the Bruins.


Halak (and Johnson, incidentally) had the Avalanche’s number last year. While with the St. Louis Blues, Halak earned two wins over Colorado. When the pressure goes up, Halak buckles down. When he goes on hot streaks — as he did with the Blues and looks good to do with the Isles — he very tough to beat.


When Halak’s not hot, top-shelf shots often beat him — he is, after all, only 5-foot-10. He can also lose his wind, and he’s been known to give up rebounds.


Throw everything plus the kitchen sink at Halak. Snipers go high. Watch for rebounds. Make him work at this high altitude — pucks will probably get past him.

The Colorado Avalanche have the offensive power to beat any goalie in the league, including any of the above. Here’s to the Avs shooting well, shooting often and banging the net.