“We just didn’t play our game. They had odd-man breaks and they capitalized. It sucks, but we can’t dwell on it.”
This was Mark Scheifele’s comment after the 6-2 drubbing of the Jets by red-hot Calgary last night. A few reactions to what Scheifele, who has been far below par for the past while, said last night.
First, what is the Winnipeg Jets’ “game?” At the start of the season it was fast-paced, quick-transition hockey. Now the Jets have a hard time getting out of their zone and even harder time sustaining any drive inside the opposition blue line. Is the Jets’ game giving up the puck and letting the opposition have numerous odd-man rushes? Because that’s what it looks like right now. Is it giving up goals that even your number two goalie should be making? Is it having your number one defenseman, Dustin Byfuglien, coughing up the puck time after time allowing for opposition goals? Well, right now, that is the Winnipeg Jets’ game. They own it. A team that has had Stafford, Little, and Perreault back in their lineup and playing even worse than they were before. Granted that the Jets are still missing Armia, Petan (would he be playing if healthy?), and Myers in sick bay, this is not a very good hockey team right now and if they don’t fix it soon, their talented coach, Paul Maurice, will pay the price. The players aren’t going anywhere. But the coach will if things do not change.
Scheifele also said that it sucked and they can’t dwell on it. Of course, his concern is the back-to-back that happens up Route 2 today in Edmonton. But the Jets better dwell on how they play so poorly and lose viciously to teams like the Flames. Until they dwell and reflect on their play, they won’t get better. Today they play against a better (but not by much) Edmonton team who will be slightly more refreshed than the Jets after another back-to-back set on Thursday and Friday (which leads to another thought: have we ever seen so many back-to-back games by teams than this year?).
As Maurice mentioned in his post-game comments, effort isn’t the big issue with the Jets, but it is strategy and it is execution. They seem to be forcing the puck and losing puck battles in the opposition end. For that matter, they lose it all over the ice.
The power play is horrible. As is the penalty kill. And the goaltending. Not much more to say about the goaltending other than it is sub-standard. I can only write so many times that the Jets best goaltender is playing for the Moose right now and it shows poor decision-making on the part of the general manager and coach to leave a $4.5 million player traveling with the 19-year olds. Argue all you want. Everyone who was adamant (read: rude) about sending Pavelec down or trading him, this is your reward for incompetent decision-making.
The Jets aren’t out of it yet. There are still a lot of games yet. But their game is so suspect right now there is no reason to think it will change. The coaches cannot seem to get their talented players to execute game plans and special teams. And that sinks any team. When that happens, teams change coaches. And if that doesn’t work, they then change general managers.
I wouldn’t make any of those changes right now if I had the power. But I’d start putting it on my back-up Christmas list for consideration. Something has to change with this team or even .500 hockey will look like a pipe dream. And to close, if the Jets end up on their third coach in six year, it will be hard to support keeping the current GM.
Trouba is the best defenseman on the ice for the Jets right now, and Byfuglien better improve or the Jets are in big trouble. Both Ehlers and Trouba got their goal-monkey off their backs last night, but much too little and far too late (the Trouba goal was kind of funny, with 0.1 seconds left). Let’s hope they can start hitting the back of the net more often. Both guys are way too talented to keep off the score sheet.