Jets need a life preserver

KEN WIEBE, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 12:46 AM ET

Dealing with adversity is a fact of life for all NHL teams and the Winnipeg Jets latest dose appears to be of the extra-strength variety.

How the Jets respond to it could either sink their promising season or provide a life preserver to deal with some extremely volatile waters.

As they hit the midway point of a pivotal four-game road trip, the Jets put forth another uninspired effort and dropped their second consecutive game, this one a 4-0 debacle against the Toronto Maple Leafs.

For those of you scoring at home, the Jets have been outscored 11-3 by Eastern Conference rivals during the past two games, with an important tilt with the Buffalo Sabres upcoming on Saturday night.

In the process, the Jets dropped to 10th in the Eastern Conference standings, fell to 5-10-4 on the road this season and slipped to 0-6 when playing on consecutive days.

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Liked the move by Jets head coach Claude Noel to go with backup Chris Mason in an effort to mix things up when playing games on consecutive nights.

Starter Ondrej Pavelec was between the pipes in the back end of the previous five sets of consecutive games and didn’t fare all that well, so going with Mason made a lot of sense.

Mason, who saw his personal four-game winning streak snapped after making 21 saves, allowed four but he did everything in his power to keep his team in this one during the opening 40 minutes before the Maple Leafs pulled away.

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With Morweena product James Reimer sitting on the bench watching, Jonas Gustavsson pitched a 24-save shutout (his first of the season and second of his career) but he wasn’t overworked by any stretch of the imagination.

The best chance for the Jets — who were blanked for the fourth time this season — came with Alex Burmistrov staring at a yawning cage, but his rebound chance rattled off the iron instead of cutting the deficit to 2-1.

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The Jets have done a great job dealing with and playing through a host of injuries to key personnel all season long, but the past two games were prime examples of them really missing defenceman Dustin Byfuglien (a possibility for Tuedsay’s game against the surging Boston Bruins) and centre Bryan Little (who should be back on Saturday night).

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Jets’ prospect Mark Scheifele finished off the 2012 World Junior Hockey Championship on a high note, scoring a goal-scorers goal and adding an assist as Canada defeated Finland 4-0 to claim the bronze medal.

That left Scheifele with three goals and an assist in the tournament, not exactly the numbers you’d expect from a guy who entered the event with the hopes of being a dominant first-line centre.

While Scheifele may not have produced at the rate he or some others had hoped, he had his moments and it says here he’ll learn from the experience and use it as a positive going forward.


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