Through nine periods of play this season, the Jets have simply not been able to measure up to the New York Rangers.
Not on the scoresheet.
The Jets have scored one goal in three games against the tight-checking, heavy-hitting Rangers, who have ridden that frustrating style to the top of the Eastern Conference standings.
Despite gutsy performances by captain Andrew Ladd, who did his best to stand up to the physical punishment, played a strong defensive game and created some scoring chances, and assistant captain Chris Thorburn, who fought Rangers tough guy Mike Rupp twice despite being in obvious pain, the Jets simply couldnít come up with enough to get the better of the Rangers and lost 3-0.
Itís bad enough the Jets had to play without key players Dustin Byfuglien, Evander Kane and Alex Burmistrov, but the players they did have couldnít get anything going despite having a solid work ethic for the third consecutive game, all losses.
When they had their moments Tuesday, the Jets used dogged effort to dig pucks out and gain a tiny bit of space, but the Rangers quickly took it away and when the Jets did get a chance to shoot, the shots were blocked.
The Rangers hammered on the Jets all night and got better as the game went on. That was too much for a team playing its second game in two nights to overcome.
This is a Jets team that needs to get healthy over the all-star break and come back with a vengeance, or their playoff hopes will be quickly extinguished.
Talk about your mismatches: Kyle Wellwood trying to drive to the net against the Rangers punishing defenceman Dan Girardi. The NHL ice-time leader absolutely manhandled Wellwood, legally shoved him off the puck and took it away ... The Rangers have been the Jetsí toughest and most difficult opponent this season, harder to play against than even the Boston Bruins. The Jets didnít score a single goal in Manhattan this season and got only one when the Rangers came to Winnipeg in October ... If youíre looking for positives in the Jetsí January slump, their penalty killing has been outstanding of late. The Rangers went 0-for-4 Tuesday night ... John Mitchell scored a soft goal on Ondrej Pavelec in the second period to make it 2-0 Rangers. Thatís three straight games the Jets goaltenders have given up a bad one. Did we mention they lost all three? ... We should point out that Pavelec also made some big saves to keep the Jets in the game and it was not his fault they lost. Not when they couldnít get him so much as a goal ... Tanner Glass had a glorious chance to get the Jets on the board but couldnít get the puck up in the air and shot it right into Henrik Lundqvistís outstretched pad. Like a lot of the Jets, you have to respect Glassís heart, but worry about his hands ... Ladd made a great play to set up Blake Wheeler in the goalmouth late in the second. Wheeler somehow directed it off the post from about an inch away and it went along the goal-line and stayed out.
HEART AND SOUL
Thorburn was hurt the first time he fought Rupp. He looked like he was in agony after the second bout, but he stayed in the game. The Jets looked more lively after both fights and you have to give kudos to Thorburn for having guts ... The Jets didnít get off to the start they wanted and trailed after the first period for the third straight game. The good news was it was only 1-0 instead of 2-0 and the Jets seemed to get their heads in the game a little more quickly than they did in losses to Florida and Carolina ... The Rangers first goal shouldnít have happened. The Jets had several chances to clear the puck from their own end and couldnít and Pavelec wasnít able to corral a rebound after a point shot by Anton Stralman before Ryan Callahan popped it in. Pavelec has been struggling with rebounds lately, looking behind him often because heís unsure he has control. This time, he clearly didnít ... Ladd made two solid defensive plays in the first period, one after he created a scoring chance for the Rangers himself. On the first play he did a good job of getting back to take away a scoring chance from Brandon Prust. On the second, he coughed the puck up at the Rangersí blue-line but made sure he picked up his man and wound up taking the puck away. Laddís defensive ability is under-rated, mostly because itís overshadowed by some bad giveaways, offensive-zone penalties and the fact that he has become a decent offensive threat.
Not that weíre anti-Miettinen, but it speaks volumes about the Jets injury woes when a guy who has no goals and has done very little in his 16 games gets top-six ice time on one of the scoring lines. Miettinen has three assists and is minus-7 this season ... Not only are there no Winnipeg Jets in the all-star game, there are not even any Manitobans after Jonathan Toews pulled out with an injury Tuesday. The give-a-care meter on the NHLís annual shinny contest just went way down around these parts ... Kind of stinks that Alex Ovechkin would pull out of the all-star game because heís upset or embarrassed about getting suspended. Fans in Ottawa are paying a lot of money for this game, as lame as it may be to some of us, and players should go if they possibly can ... The Jets still have seven of their next nine games on the road and have to get regular points or theyíll be out of the playoff race before a stretch drive in which they play 14 of the last 23 games at home.