Sunday, March 31, 2013

Jets hit by a Hurricane: End Week on a Losing Note

The Winnipeg Jets ended March, which came in like a lamb and went out like a lamb for them, the same way they started it: on home ice with a loss.  However, this time it was to the Carolina Hurricanes not the Washington Capitals.  The Jets out played the Hurricanes in the second period where they could have taken control of the game but failed to connect on several opportunities including a couple of breakaway opportunities but the Canes third string goal tender, Justin Peters shut the door.

The Jets were also their own worst enemies by taking four penalties in a row starting midway through the second period. They managed to come out unscathed but looked tired in the third period. Carolina opened the scoring in the first minute into the first period as well as in the third period. Both goals were a result of the Jets getting caught running around in their own end.

The win was a much needed one for Carolina as they had lost seven in a row leaving the Jets with a 4 point lead instead of what could have been an eight point cushion.  The loss comes at a bad time as the Jets head onto the road this week for three games while Carolina still has three games in hand.

The Jets started the week off on a good note with a 4-1 win against the same Hurricanes team on Tuesday night in a game that saw everything going the Jets way including Evander Kane getting credit for a goal that was actually scored by a Canes defenseman.

Unfortunately, the Jets next game was in Pittsburgh against the unstoppable force that is Sid the Kid and his fellow Penguins.  Al Montoya got the start in net over Ondrej Pavelic. He was the only reason the game was not a complete blowout. The Penguins outplayed the Jets in every aspect of the game cruising to an easy 4-0 win. 

The Jets put on a brave face afterwards saying the Penguins are beatable but were the better team on the night. The reality is that this game was a good measuring stick for the Jets illustrating how far they have to go to become a cup contender instead of a fringe playoff team.

The Jets next game is April 1st at Madison Square Gardens against a Rangers team that also lost on Saturday in Montreal to the Canadiens.  The Rangers are 4-5-1 over their last 10 games but are 10-6 at home.  However, the Jets last trip to MSG resulted in a 1-0 win so all hope should not be lost for fans provided the team plays with more intensity and a sense of urgency they lacked today against Carolina.

If the Jets want to have success next week as they play three games in four nights (all on the road) before heading back to Winnipeg for a matinee against the Flyers, their top line of Ladd-Little-Wheeler scoreless over the last two games must get back on track.

Dustin Byfuglien’s whose game  has been ‘up and down’ in the words of his coach ( choosing his words carefully ) must become a force again and the Jets fourth line has to be more competitive. The line sees limited playing, which in this compacted schedule is proving to be fatal to the Jets playoff plight as fatigue has set in, which is definitely affecting the other players who are playing more minutes than they can handle.

The Jets are 5-5 over their last ten games; are showing signs that they have hit a wall mentally and physically. It is unlikely they will be buyers at the trade deadline so they won’t get help in the way of new bodies.  In fact they may lose a few such as Ron Hainsey and/or Nik Antropov.  

They are also feeling the heat from the Washington Capitals and Tampa Bay Lightning who are closing in on them with games in hand. It will be an interesting race to the finish but for Jet fans it may not be the result they want unless this team can find a way to play more consistently and with a greater sense of urgency.

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