November 14, 2011
Jet snapshots: pretty good when using their legs
By Ted Wyman, QMI Agency
When the Jets skate and play an up-tempo, physical brand of hockey they can be a pretty good hockey team.
They did just that Monday night and were rewarded with a 5-2 win over the Tampa Bay Lightning that ended a five-game losing skid for the home side.
Dustin Byfuglien had his best game as a Jet and there were no passengers in the effort, which should help brighten the mood for Tuesday’s skills competition at MTS Centre.
The Jets took their first lead since the Buffalo game last Tuesday when Evander Kane scored in the first period. Good job by Byfuglien and Alex Burmistrov to keep the puck in at the blue-line and get it over to Kane for a quick high shot past Dwayne Roloson. That’s exactly the start the Jets needed to help them get out of their funk ... Byfuglien made it 2-0 on a blast from the point. His shot might have gone wide if it hadn’t hit Marc-Andre Bergeron’s skate, but that would be quibbling. The Jets also could have been called for goaltender interference as Jim Slater clipped Roloson, but this time the home team caught a break.
Terrific job of penalty killing by the Jets, going 6-for-6. They killed off a double minor to the undisciplined Zach Bogosian in the second period and later a 5-on-3. It’s an area of the Jets’ game that had to improve and Monday night it did ... Gutsy, gutsy player, that Slater. How many times this season has he sacrificed his body to block shots? He could barely skate after blocking a shot while killing a second-period penalty, but he got back up and put himself back in the shooting lane again ... Mark Flood showed some toughness as well, taking a shot off the knee, skating it off and then scoring a power-play goal to give the Jets a 3-1 lead. Flood has three goals in seven games since getting called up from St. John’s and it’s going to be hard to send him down with the regular blue-liners get healthy ... The Jets don’t lead in many NHL categories, but they continue to pad their league-leading stats in bad penalties, two-man disadvantages and shorthanded situations. Bogosian’s double minor for arguing a holding penalty with the referee was a perfect example of how poor discipline usually hurts this team ... A few penalties later, there was a bad call on Burmistrov (and Steven Stamkos heard it from the fans for his embellishment) which gave the Lightning a two-man advantage late in the second. It was the continuation of a crazy trend: The Jets have been two men short nine times this season and have only had one 5-on-3.
The Lightning have been outscored 21-11 in the first period and 17 of those goals they’ve given up have come on the road ... The Lightning looked like a different team after they went down 3-0. They took the shackles off front-liners Martin St. Louis, Vinny Lecavalier and Stamkos and started skating, which led to a goal by St. Louis to make it 3-1. Essentially, they stopped trapping and started to generate some offence ... Great play by Andrew Ladd on the goal that made it 4-1. He could have chased a puck into the corner, but saw Johnny Oduya was going to get there first, so he went straight to the front of the net and tipped Oduya’s shot past Roloson. Big bounce-back goal for the Jets after the Lightning got on the board ... When Tim Stapleton scored to make it 5-1 for the Jets, I could almost hear Curt Keilback making the call: “The wraparound.” ... Can’t understand how Stamkos can possibly get a clear breakaway when the Jets are protecting a 5-1 lead.
Though he did some more line juggling and broke up his so-called first-line Monday, Noel jumped to the defence of players like Ladd and Bryan Little, who have come under criticism for their lack of offensive production this year. “It’s a tough task for those guys,” Noel said. “You put heavy demands on them. They play against the other team’s top line so you want them to not only check them, which they always do and do it well, but you also want them to create a lot of offence. It’s a big burden. Are they true No. 1 guys, maybe not yet, but it’s good experience for them.” ... Blake Wheeler at least created some chances with his skating, but even though he looked better, he’s got no finish at all. He had a team-low 8:01 in ice time ... It would have been a lot closer game if Steve Downie had not hit two posts and missed two open nets for the Lightning.
Great to see Jason Jaffray getting a chance to show what he can do in a Jets uniform after he put in years of great service to the Manitoba Moose. “It’s tough to knock the smile off my face right now,” Jaffray said before the game. Given what Kenndal McArdle has done for this team so far — nothing — Jaffray could get a chance to stick around for a while. He looked fine in his first appearance ... Ondrej Pavelec made his 10th straight start for the Jets and seems to welcome the heavy workload, but it seems strange that he keeps going in every game even though backup Chris Mason is healthy and has played well this season. Pavelec was solid once again however and picked up his fifth win of the season ... Prior to the game, Tanner Glass said this about the Jets: “We’ve got to manage the puck well in the neutral zone,” and “You’ve got to win at home.” Mission accomplished on both fronts.