The Winnipeg Jets are mired in a 4 game losing streak. Last night against the Tampa Bay Lightning they managed to put all the inconsistencies in their game into one night.
They looked like a tired team in the third period, coupled with giveaways and lazy plays they gave up one goal in the third period and then an empty netter late in the contest for 4-2 loss.
The only bright spot was Ondrej Pavelec’s play. He made some brilliant saves throughout the game and kept the game close.
Claude Noel looked as frustrated as I’ve seen him this year. Some bad passing, mental mistakes and tired legs cost them their fourth loss in a row.
I think the majority of the mistakes were out of frustration from the players who have played some great hockey at times this year only to be on the losing end. The losing end of one goal games. As is the case in a Canadian market, blame is the topic lately. Who do we blame? The coach? The GM? Individual players?
It’s easy to place blame, the grace period is over for the fans and they showed that with a smattering of boos at the end of the game.
We have to remember Kevin Cheveldayoff is still in building mode and this kind of thing is going to happen occasionally. Even the top seeded teams get burnt once in a while if they aren’t ready to play. Last night’s game, if I can be optimistic, was winnable even though they didn’t play their best. The game was 2-2 and even when the Lightning took the lead 3-2 the Jets had a power play late to try to tie it up but frustration and personal vendetta took over and the Jets took a penalty of their own to negate the power play.
It’s not always a bad thing for that to happen, it brings teams closer together and helps in the long run, the problem is the Jets need wins badly right now.
With this Johnny rain cloud over the team how about some positives?
Olli Jokinen has surprised me with his attitude. This guy could care less about the Olympics coming up or being named to the Finnish men’s hockey team, his focus is on the Jets only, that’s encouraging. It makes Finland winning Gold at the World Junior a little less surprising. Are these young junior Finnish players being showed how you conduct yourself professionally by players like Jokinen, Teemu Selanne and Saku Koivu? Looks like it.
Mark Scheifele is the real bright spot this year. He’s getting better and better each game. His vision on the ice and pinpoint passing is incredible. The nice play on Jokinen’s goal last night is a skilled player’s pass. He’s improved immensely on face-offs and is looking like Cheveldayoff’s selection in the first round was a gem.
Evander Kane is starting to score regularly, but more importantly Kane is a force out on the ice. He hits, he’s one of the fastest skaters in the NHL, and he can fight. Personally, I think he’s a goal scorer first and watching him hit guys recklessly and fight is not what I want Kane doing. But that’s an asset when he’s not scoring, he can play anyway you want. The chemistry he has with Michael Frolik and Mark Scheifele is a great sign.
Dustin Byfuglien is a little different than most. He’s huge and tough to play against. When he gets angry not many players want to tangle with the big man. He has great offensive abilities and tremendous speed for a big guy. Some say he should play forward but having that big body in front of your own net is an asset. If he got muscled off the puck or got beat one on one a lot I could see moving him to forward but he doesn’t. For whatever reason, he has the right intentions and is making the right play but sometimes the pass is a little off, but I think with his offensive ability it equals itself out. I wouldn’t trade him, when the team lost the big guy for 13 games a couple of years ago, the Jets won only 2 games in that time and we saw what it would be like without him.
Jacob Trouba has been solid this year. He plays with poise and usually makes the right play. He can hit, he can make plays and the biggest asset, he can make a great first pass out of his own end or carry it out. For 19 years old, he’s a light that’s getting brighter and brighter each day.
The one thing about last night’s game is the Jets could have pulled out that game with a strong third period. Pavelec kept them in the game and the game was there for the taking, but with a young team you’re going to have growing pains.
Tags: Winnipeg Jets