Jets waste another opportunity
TED WYMAN, QMI Agency
|A Jets fan holds up a sign for a special someone during a game against the Islanders at the MTS Centre in Winnipeg, Man., Feb. 14, 2012. (FRED GREENSLADE/Reuters)
WINNIPEG - The Jets just can’t seem to get wins when they need them most.
With a chance to make a move in the standings, perhaps even get to within two points of a playoff spot (the eighth-place Toronto Maple Leafs got hammered in Calgary Tuesday night), the Jets found another way to lose, this time outshooting and at times outworking the New York Islanders, but eventually dropping a 3-1 decision on home ice.
Losses to teams below you in the standings are never good. At this time of the year they are devastating.
The Jets are still in the playoff race despite the loss, but they’re creeping ever closer to the bottom of the Eastern Conference standings as well.
That trend will continue unless they start winning the games they are supposed to win, and fast.
GOOD START, POOR FINISH
The Jets seemed to be the better team until P.A. Parenteau scored early in the third period to give the Islanders a 2-1 lead. After that, the old Jets scoring woes reared their ugly heads ... You could tell early in this game that the Jets had lots of jump and were determined to throw lots of rubber at Islanders goalie Evgeni Nabokov while getting traffic in front. The Jets were skating well, forechecking aggressively, forcing turnovers, cycling effectively and winning little battles for pucks. It paid off with lots of good scoring chances and 16 shots on goal in the first period. It paid off in a bigger way after a tremendous shift by the GST Line led to a goal by “Sniper” Chris Thorburn, who banged in a rebound of a Jim Slater shot to make it 1-0 ... Thorburn not only got his third goal in two weeks after going scoreless for 50 games this season, but the GST Line got it while hemming the high-powered John Tavares line deep in its own zone ... The Islanders’ Jay Pandolfo took going hard to the net to a new level, crashing face first into the spot where the crossbar meets the post and it didn’t look like anyone pushed him.
ROUGH SHIFT FOR HAINSEY
When Tavares was called for delay of game late in the second period, it marked the first time in three games this season the Jets had a power play against the Islanders. Not a misprint ... Two Jets defencemen had glorious chances to score in the second but Johnny Oduya shot over the net after getting set up beautifully in the slot by Blake Wheeler and Zach (The Iron King) Bogosian blasted one off the crossbar. Bogosian has hit far more than his fair share of goalposts and crossbars this season ... The Jets penalty killing has been awful lately. When Matt Moulson scored in the second period it was the fifth time in seven chances the Jets opponents scored on the power play and one of the unsuccessful ones lasted for only eight seconds at the end of overtime in Washington ... Wheeler took a penalty and it didn’t take long for Moulson to make the Jets pay, but it was a rough shift for defenceman Ron Hainsey that led to the goal. Hainsey tried to slap a puck down the ice but had it knocked out of the air. Seconds later Moulson’s shot from the high slot went off Hainsey’s skate and in.
LIGHTING A FIRE
You have to like coach Claude Noel’s decision to move Alex Burmistrov up to the second line and move the uninspiring Nik Antropov to the fourth line. Antropov can be a magician with the puck but just like Houdini, he shows flashes and then disappears. Lately, he’s been doing the invisibility trick far too often ... Burmistrov is just too talented to be a fourth liner. He needs minutes to get better and the Jets need his creativity when the other top forwards are on the ice ... Antropov had his most phyiscal shift of the season in the second, pushing a few opponents around. He certainly looked like a player who has had a fire lit under him ... The Jets only real hope of making the playoffs is another run of success on home ice over the next few weeks. With eight of the next nine games at home, the Jets need to remember December and try to replicate it. “If we can duplicate the month of December, we might help ourselves a bit,” Noel said. A bit? They went 10-3-1 in December, their best month in franchise history. Another stretch like that would be a difference maker.
NASH? NOT LIKELY
Fans hoping the Jets will get in on the Rick Nash sweepstakes, probably should realize this team isn’t about to mortgage the future for one player, no matter how enticing his stats and skill set may be. As QMI Agency’s Bruce Garrioch put it, tongue firmly in cheek: “The asking price for Nash: A centre, winger, goalie, picks, a trainer and skate sharpener.” You left out prospects, Bruce ... The Islanders have three players (Tavares, Parenteau and Moulson) in the top-30 in NHL scoring and all three started Tuesday’s game with at least 10 points more than the Jets leading scorer, Wheeler. Everyone assumes adding a couple of snipers is all the Jets need to be successful, but having elite scoring talent clearly doesn’t guarantee consistent winning ... Man, what the Jets would give to taste some of the success their farm team in St. John’s is savouring this season. The IceCaps are in first place in the Atlantic Division, 12 points ahead of second-place Manchester. They won all four of their games over the last week. One of the more intriguing players in St. John’s is 21-year-old goaltender Eddie Pasquale, who won three of the four games (David Aebischer was in net for the other) last week and allowed just four goals while recording one shutout. Pasquale, who split time between the AHL and ECHL last season and was a fourth-round draft pick of the Jets organization in 2009, was named the AHL’s player of the week.