Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Winnipeg Jets Need to Improve Their Power Play

I watched the Winnipeg Jets play the New York Islanders on NHL Center Ice on Tuesday night. The Islanders were in Winnipeg for an Eastern Conference showdown. The season series between the two teams was tied entering the contest. The game was an important one for both teams. Winnipeg was and at the time of this writing still is four points out of the eighth and final playoff spot. The Islanders were four points behind the Jets in the conference standings.

Winnipeg outplayed the Islanders for most of the game, except for two defensive lapses that were enough to give the Islanders the victory. It was painful to see a team dominate the contest but not do enough to seal the deal. There were crossbars, goal posts, etc that got in the way of that little black disc crossing the goal line. Then there was goaltender Evgeni Nabokov who played well and stopped a number of scoring chances in the first two periods.

After the game was over, it became evident that the Jets need to improvement their power play. Last night the Jets went 0-3 and they're 5-45 in the past 17 games (That's 11%). Each game is critical and their poor power play has cost the team games. Watching the Jets last two power plays, it seemed as if they couldn't even cross center ice. They spent the better  part of each power play in their own end. They did little to enter the offensive end of the ice. It was hard to watch and I became annoyed.

The Jets have had 17 games to improve their power play but came up short last night. To put it in perspective, had the Jets scored on just one power play, they would have earned at least a point in the game. The annoying thing is that the Islanders hardly had to work on defending the Jets power play. It became a two minute break for them and a good opportunity to rest their legs. It was embarrassing, especially since it happened on home ice.

The Jets are going to be going into a stretch where they play 11 of their next 14 games on home ice. These games will be critical if they are going to make the playoffs. The team is good at home but they will be watching the playoffs on their television sets in April if they don't improve their power play.

The Jets did a lot of good things last night. They were cycling the puck and forchecking well in the Islanders end of the ice. That helped them put a lot of pressure on the Islanders defense for a big part of the game but when they were a man up, that pressure disappeared. It seems as if the Jets wanted to muscle the puck into the offensive zone and they tried to carry the puck over the Isles blue line time and again.

I believe that the Jets would have been better off dumping the puck into the offensive zone at times during their power play. Then they could have kept up the pressure on their opponents defense. They had an extra skater, so they could have worn down the Islanders.

With the Jets playing good hockey last night, it was the poor power play that did them in. The Islanders scored on one of their power play opportunities, which shows how important it is for a team to capitalize on their opportunities.

If the Jets find a way to make it to the playoffs, they will need to have a much better power play or find themselves being on the short-end of a four and done opening round series.

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