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Western Conference

Jets’ Blake Wheeler Says Team Needs Better Goaltending

When a team finishes with the fourth-highest goals-against per game (3.11) and the third-worst team save percentage (.900), its pretty obvious that upgrades are needed.

The Winnipeg Jets own those dubious statistics and Blake Wheelers knows how important solid goaltending is to the future successes of the Jets.

We need better goaltending. It’s a tough business, and being a goalie is tough” Wheeler said to Matt Larkin of The Hockey News .

“By no means is this closing the door on anyone, but I think having competition back there is really important. Because if you keep putting somebody back in the net, and they’re 24 years old and maybe they’re not quite ready for it, it can be damaging to them a little bit.

And seeing someone go in there who has worked for it, who’s had success doing it, can really only help them. Having competition back there, having that hunger to get back into the net, that’s a huge thing for any team.

The ideal situation is that we have two No. 1 goalies and we ride the hot guy, and the guy who’s not playing is pissed off, and when he gets into the net, he gets hot, and they work out like that.

And if one guy grabs the job and runs with it, that’s great too. There are 31 starting goalie jobs in the entire world, so there’s an incredible amount of competition, so it’s a thankless job a lot of times.

But for us to get to where we need to go, we need to have that position solidified.”

Winnipeg relied on Connor Hellebuyck and Michael Hutchinson to man the net last season and their results weren’t anything to gush over.

Hellebuyck posted 26-19-4 in 56 games with a 2.89 GAA and a .907 save percentage and his counterpart Hutchinson, went 9-12-3 with a 2.92 GAA and a .903 save percentage.

Those numbers are exactly the kind that need improving and Wheeler is calling out his team to make the adjustments.

Winnipeg is hoping that that answered their issue when they signed former Philadelphia Flyers goalie Steve Mason to a two-year deal.


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