Sunday, February 3, 2013

The Jets Are In Need Of Some Home Cooking

Article written by The Comish - Winnipeg Correspondent Sportmentary Online Sports Talk
When we last left off the Winnipeg Jets had just finished taking care of the pesky New York Islanders with an overtime win. The Jets were 3-1-1 heading into a mini three game road trip flying high and with the world as their oyster. However, you could sense the trepidation in Claude Noel's post game prognosis that all was not as it seemed and that the Stanley Cup parade route plans should be put on hold.

Noel's comments were telling and in light of their disastrous road trip he is either the second coming of Nostradamus or just a coach who had a better read on his team than the fans do as the Jets record has slumped to 3-4-1 after finding a common thread that resulted in losing all three road games: penalty killing

The coaches and players alike have to be very concerned at the undisciplined play that resulted in giving the opposition power play after power play. Every team will take penalties. It is a fact of life in the NHL but it is being able to defend them that sets the winners apart from the losers. The Jets were the least penalized team heading into this road trip but that changed on the road.

There were some bad calls but that will happen and the Jets took a step back as the character they showed in the three games following the opening day debacle all but vanished into thin air as the opposition went 8/16 on the power play. A side effect of the poor penalty killing appears to be Ondrej Pavalec's play, which got worse as the road trip progressed.

However, the bright light (if one can be gleaned) is that despite their porous penalty killing the Jets were in the games against Montreal and the Panthers but by the time they reached Tampa the fuel was out of the tank and it showed as the Lighting struck early and often jumping out to a six goal lead before the Jets could muster a solid scoring chance.

To make matters worse the Jets had to play without Dustin Byfuglien for both games in Florida and the team is being tight lipped about his injury and his return to the lineup. If the Jets are to have any success he has to play because without him this team seems lost.

Byfuglien is a wild card on the ice, logs a ton of minutes and is a force on the power play. Toby Enstrom and Paul Postma showed some signs of life but they do not put the same fear into the opposition as Big Buff does . Ron Hainsey should not be on the power play unit but without Buff and Bogosian the Jets lack of depth and they are exposed.

Perhaps it is time for the Jets to put a forward at the point on power plays in Byfuglien's absence. The sixty-four thousand dollar question is who would that be? Could it be Burmistrov? Joikenen? Little? Kane? Once gain this shows the Jets lack of depth and in the new NHL this may become the reality for most teams including the Jets.

The Jets struggled mightily during this road trip but the season is still young and if they can find a way to get better play out of Pavelec, stop the bleeding on the power play and play with the character and heart they showed in Boston, and against Pittsburgh and the Islanders the playoffs are within reach. Unfortunately these are all big 'ifs' and in this shortened season these things have to resolved immediately if not sooner!

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