February 15, 2012
Jets crying for helpLanding a sniper at top of list
By PAUL FRIESEN, QMI Agency
WINNIPEG - It wasn’t exactly a desperate call for a trade-deadline move.
But in its own, low-key way, it was an admission his Winnipeg Jets could use some help as they scratch and claw for a playoff spot.
Some skilled, high-priced, soft-hands type of help.
Jets captain Andrew Ladd isn’t the type to make public demands of management. Hell, he doesn’t even make dressing room speeches.
Ladd leads the old-fashioned way — by working his butt off, and expecting others to follow.
But when he speaks, people listen.
And Tuesday, Ladd didn’t hide from this reporter’s question about what the Jets need as the trade deadline approaches.
“With the troubles we’ve had scoring, if it’s not going to come from within this room, we probably could use some help, there,” he said. “We’ve got a great goaltender, we’ve got D that can move the puck and play both ways.”
But they don’t have the firepower up front.
That was painfully obvious once again, Tuesday night, in a 3-1 loss to the New York Islanders.
That wasted, five-goal outburst in Pittsburgh the other day? Should have saved a few of them.
Because try as they might, the Jets had almost zero finish.
Out-shooting and out-chancing the Isles, the Jets just couldn’t outscore them, and that’s saying something.
Because the Isles are one of the NHL’s most impotent offences, ranked 27th going into the game. The Jets were 24th. That position likely dropped.
The power play alone could have been the difference, but the Jets power play, 0-for-3, Tuesday, and 2-for-25 in its last 10 games, rarely is.
And it had head coach Claude Noel considering “drastic” action in a post-mortem in which he looked and sounded as discouraged as he has all season.
“The best players aren’t even executing passes that are simple plays,” Noel said. “Maybe we just gotta get new guys out there.”
Noel called his team’s effort “decent” in the first period, the power play “demoralizing.”
But his biggest headache might be the way this team got its collective want-to sucked right out of it when the Isles grabbed a 2-1 lead, a minute and a half into the third period.
“We had no life,” Noel said. “What is that — belief system?”
It’s not the first time the Jets threw in the towel far too easily, and too early.
It’s not even a conscious thing. But deep down, they seem to know they can’t come from behind.
“Am I discouraged?” Noel repeated a question. “How do I look? I’m not real happy. It was a big game against an opponent we should have been able to beat.”
Instead, their poor goaltender has to stand on his head just to give them a chance.
“Of course I would be more happy if we would score some goals,” Ondrej Pavelec said. “We’re missing the net a lot. It doesn’t matter if you get scoring chances or not. If you score one goal, it’s not enough. Or you have to be really lucky.
“Those games, at the end of the year, could be a big difference.”
Oh, they’ll make a difference, all right.
I can’t see this team, in its current configuration, making the playoffs. It’s that simple.
It’s not only the Jets power play that needs something drastic.
It’s the roster.
As Ladd acknowledged, someone who can put the puck in the net sure would help.
That might solve two problems.
The obvious one: the lack of offence.
And the lack of life.