Snapshots: Jets have work to do

Jets players react after their loss to the Blackhawks at the United Center in Chicago, Ill., Oct....

Jets players react after their loss to the Blackhawks at the United Center in Chicago, Ill., Oct. 13, 2011. (FRANK POLICH/Reuters)

TED WYMAN, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 12:50 AM ET

WINNIPEG - TSN analyst Ray Ferraro said it best when talking about the excitement surrounding the return of the Jets and the fans’ dream of immediate success.

“The reality is this is a team with a lot of work to do.”

We have only two games on which to judge, but the early indication is Ferraro is bang on.

For the second straight game, the Jets were hurt by defensive breakdowns, soft goaltending at times, an overall lack of execution and spotty physical play as they lost 4-3 to the Chicago Blackhawks Thursday night.

It’s not going to get any easier for the Jets, who play 10 of their next 13 games on the road, but they have to stop making it easy on their opposition, and quickly.

Truth is the Jets put up a decent fight in a tough road game Thursday night, but they aren’t going to win very often when they give up four goals.

Much better effort than in the home opener though.

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The Jets started very well with a pair of nice tip-ins by fourth-line centre Jim Slater, but immediately some old habits reared their ugly heads. Their penalty killing continues to be suspect as the Hawks scored easily on their only chance of the first period and Ondrej Pavelec struggled early, giving up a juicy rebound on Andrew Brunette’s goal. For the rest of the period, the Jets defence was running around, turning pucks over and allowing way too many odd-man rushes. Overall, the play was way too wide open for the road team’s liking ... It didn’t take long for the word “Winnepag” to be trending on Twitter after TSN showed it on a press lounge menu at the United Center. Stay classy, Checogo! ... Give an assist to Joel Quenneville for a well-timed timeout after the Jets took a 2-0 lead early. It was all good for the Hawks after that.

• • •

Pavelec played very well after giving up a bad goal to Dave Bolland that wound up being the winner. He kept the Jets in it for the last 35 minutes of the game ... Haven’t seen much offence at all from the Jets top line of Andrew Ladd, Bryan Little and Blake Wheeler. All of the Jets goals so far have come from the so-called third and fourth lines. That has to change ... Mark Scheifele will have show a whole lot in the next few games for him to not get sent back to the Barrie Colts of the OHL ... Kyle Wellwood tripping on the blue-line on a clear-cut breakaway was humourous and sad. At least he made a good dump-in to the corner ... Wellwood redeemed himself with a nifty between-the-legs goal to make it 4-3 in the second. A lot of credit on that goal has to go to defenceman Ron Hainsey, who led a great rush ... Hainsey was the Jets most consistent player on the night ... Quick whistle cost the Jets a goal when it was 3-2 in the second. Could have been a completely different game. Slow whistle cost the Jets a last-second faceoff in the offensive zone at the end of the game. Should have had at least 1.3 seconds.

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It’s too early to make any knee-jerk moves, but if the Jets are indeed as offensively challenged as projected, would it not make sense for them to trade a defenceman for a forward with some scoring touch? The Jets have eight defencemen who can play right now, including the returning six from the Atlanta Thrashers last season, plus Winnipegger Derek Meech and veteran Randy Jones. If the Jets were to move one of their top six blue-liners, they might be able to improve one of their forward lines without suffering too big a hit on defence. Fact is, the Jets don’t have a great defence — they were 29th in the NHL last year defensively — so it might not hurt to shake things up.

• • •

Have seen some pundits picking the Jets to be decent this season, including some who have them making the playoffs. Not Sports Illustrated, however. The SI NHL Preview picks the Jets to finish dead last in the Eastern Conference, citing the difficult travel schedule as the primary reason … Jets winger Tanner Glass figures any rivalry he has with the Chicago Blackhawks is all about hair. “(Patrick) Kane and I have a little battle going with the mullets, other than that I don’t have much on them,” Glass said after practice on Wednesday. And how is that battle going? “Mine’s still going, so I think that speaks for itself.” Kane tried to take things to a new level by getting stripes cut into the sides of his hair during the playoffs last year, but Glass didn’t think much of that. “That’s just child’s play. This is a serious mullet here.” … Doesn’t seem likely that Sidney Crosby will be in the lineup when the Penguins pay a visit to the Jets on Monday, although he has been cleared for contact 9½ months after suffering a concussion in the Winter Classic. It’s possible he could play next week, but few people believe he’ll be back before Nov. 1. If all goes well, Crosby should be in Winnipeg on Dec. 23 … The list of 2011 first-round picks still in the NHL is dwindling. The Islanders sent fifth-overall selection Ryan Strome back to junior Thursday, while the Carolina Hurricanes sent 12th-overall selection Ryan Murphy down as well. On Wednesday, the Blackhawks sent second-rounder Brandon Saad back. That leaves six first-rounders still in the NHL, including Scheifele of the Jets (No. 7), who is joined by first-overall pick Ryan Nugent-Hopkins of the Oilers, Gabriel Landeskog of the Avalanche (No. 2), Adam Larsson of the Devils (No. 4), Mika Zibanejad of the Senators (No. 6) and Sean Couturier of the Flyers (No. 8).


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