Jets Snapshots: Lack of scoring getting old
Ted Wyman, QMI Agency
|Winnipeg Jets goalie Chris Mason makes a save against Florida Panthers' Stephen Weiss (L) during the second period of their NHL hockey game in Sunrise, Florida February 3, 2012. (REUTERS/Rhona Wise)
Forget the Back-to-Back Blues. That song and dance has become older B.B. King and more boring than the neutral zone trap.
What's killing the Winnipeg Jets is their lack of scoring.
The Jets showed enough effort and played a strong enough defensive game to win once again Friday night.
But for the fifth straight time on this road trip, they couldn't generate much offensively in a damaging 2-1 loss to the Florida Panthers.
The Jets have not scored more than one goal in regulation time in any of the last five games. They won two of those games, -- once in a shootout and once in overtime -- but they never scored enough to get a "clean two points," to borrow a term from coach Claude Noel.
Friday night they started far too slowly, blew a coverage assignment on the winning goal and didn't do enough to support a strong performance by backup goalie Chris Mason.
And boy was it a costly and disheartening loss in terms of the Jets playoff hopes.
They could have moved to within one point of the Southeast Division leading Panthers with a win. Instead, they're five points out.
It's true, the Jets are now 0-9 in the second half of back-to-back games, and there's no question the Panthers had more jump than their visitors Friday night.
But if the Jets were fresh and ready, is there any reason to believe they would have scored more than one goal?
They've given us none lately.
Bryan Little went 15 games without scoring a goal at the start of the season. He went another 13 games before scoring after returning from injury last month, but ended that drought with a second period goal Friday night. The good news for the Jets is, the last time Little got off the schneid, he went on a tear, scoring 11 goals in 17 games. They could sure use another outburst like that from him now ... Little had a great moment and lousy one within a few minutes in the second period. He scored a nice goal to tie the game at 1-1 after Blake Wheeler dug the puck out of the corner and got it to Andrew Ladd, who fed Little in the faceoff circle, where he ripped one past Scott Clemmensen. Shortly after that though, Little lost a defensive zone faceoff and failed to tie up his man in front of the net, which resulted in a game-winning goal that should have never happened for Sean Bergenheim ... That play might explain why Little is now -9 in the games since he came back from injury.
After a slow start, the Jets found some life in the second period when Chris Thorburn won a pugilistic decision over Krystofer Barch and after a terrific cycling shift by the fourth line of Alexander Burmistrov, Aaron Gagnon and Antti Miettinen. That was one of the best games the Jets fourth line has played this year. They generated chances, won battles along the boards and actually looked like a legitimate threat to score ... The Jets had two glorious scoring chances in the second period but didn't get a shot on either play. On one of the nifty plays, Wheeler passed one too many times. On the other he either did the same thing or flubbed a shot because his stick broke. It was hard to tell ... Superb leg stretch by Chris Mason to make a goal-line save on Marcel Goc in the second period. The Panthers moved the puck around very well and Mason had to be extremely sharp all night to keep the Jets in the game.
You could definitely say this was not the start the Jets wanted. They were stuck in their own zone for the first three minutes of the first period and were dominated for most of the frame by the hard-working Panthers. The shots were 10-6 for Florida but that stat flattered the Jets ... The Jets were not doing the things that have been successful for them in recent games. They were sloppy with the puck, didn't get it deep in the offensive zone and turned it over in the neutral zone. The Panthers were playing at a higher tempo and wound up getting more than their fair share of odd-man rushes, which would have been much more problematic had Mason not been on top of his game ... Zach Bogosian had a great chance in the Panthers zone but the puck hopped over his stick and allowed the Panthers to get a two-on-one, but you had to give the Jets blue-liner credit for getting back in the play and eventually taking a pass away from Tomas Fleischmann ... Hard to believe Panthers D Erik Gudbranson didn't get a high sticking penalty when he clipped Jets centre Nik Antropov in the first period. It's even harder to believe the refs can always see cheesy slashing the stick penalties, but miss blatant calls on which a player can actually get hurt. Alex Burmistrov was called for just such an infraction and the Panthers capitalized on the power play when Jets-killer Kris Versteeg pulled the trigger. It was Versteeg's sixth goal of the season against the Jets ... The refs missed another high stick when Tanner Glass got raked by Tomas Kopecky in the third ... Bogosian looked bewildered when Bergenheim lifted his stick out of his hands and into the crowd (we presume that's OK because he didn't slash it). Give Bogosian credit for somehow goading Bergenheim into a roughing penalty moments later, even though he was playing without a stick.