January 15, 2012
Jets reeling up front
By Kirk Penton, QMI Agency
Jets leading scorer Blake Wheeler was kept in hospital for 24 hours after getting hit in the throat with a slap shot on Saturday afternoon.
Tests on Wheeler’s neck were negative after he took the second-period blast off Petr Sykora’s stick, but doctors at Health Sciences Centre wanted to keep him under observation for 24 hours. Wheeler didn’t travel to Ottawa on Sunday afternoon, but he still might join the team and suit up against the Senators Monday.
Wheeler leads the Jets with nine goals and 23 assists, and he has played in all 44 of Winnipeg’s games this season.
The Jets also travelled to the nation’s capital without top two defencemen, Dustin Byfuglien and Zach Bogosian. Even though defence hasn’t been Winnipeg’s problem for the last two games, they still miss the defensive duo.
“They’re huge for us. They’re our two best defencemen,” winger Tanner Glass said. “They log a lot of minutes, and they make it tough for the other team to generate.
“But every team’s going through it. You look around the league, and there are big guys out everywhere.”
CHILLED: Too many Jets are slumping at the same time.
Wheeler and captain Andrew Ladd have accounted for eight of the team’s 12 goals since New Year’s Eve.
Nearly everyone else is finding it impossible to dent the twine.
Wheeler’s linemates, Evander Kane and Bryan Little, haven’t notched goals in seven and six games, respectively, while Ladd’s second-line colleagues, Kyle Wellwood and Nik Antropov, have gone 12 and 11 games without scoring.
Go further down the list, and the gaps are just as wide, if not wider. Chris Thorburn, who on Saturday was scratched for the first time this season, doesn’t have a goal in 43 contests. Antti Miettinen hasn’t scored since being claimed off waivers 12 games ago. It’s been 10 games for winger Tanner Glass and seven for Alex Burmistrov, who has played on several lines lately.
“We’re not scoring enough goals to win games,” Glass said. “Our last few games were one or two or three goals a game. In this league you need to score to win, especially in the third period.
“You gotta have pushes, and you gotta put the other team on their heels, put the doubt in their mind that you’re going to beat them.”
IN THE HANGAR: Ladd is minus-5 in two games against the Senators this season, both of which were Winnipeg losses … Senators forward Milan Michalek, who will be a starter in the all-star game on Jan. 29, has four goals in the two games against Winnipeg this season … Evander Kane has a pair of tallies versus Ottawa this year … The Senators have collected at least one point in 13 of their last 14 games … The Atlanta Thrashers’ longest losing streak last season was four games, and it happened only once. The Jets have dropped three straight going into Scotiabank Place.