It’s one of the best attributes a professional athlete can possess and it would serve the Winnipeg Jets well over the next couple of days:
A short memory.
The Jets enter the Christmas break on a two-game losing skid after Monday night’s horrendous effort in a 6-2 loss at Rexall Place in Edmonton. Winnipeg is now two games under .500 at 16-18-5 and if the anger that dominated the final minutes of the contest – in which the Jets were nailed for four misconducts and a game misconduct was issued to Zach Bogosian – then they might not exactly be caught up in the glad tidings of the season.
"This leaves you in a sour position, is really what it does," said Jets’ coach Claude Noel after the game. "We’ll reflect on it and move forward when we get back from the break and go from there. There’s a certain way we have to play in order to win games. We know that way, we just aren’t willing to play it game in and game out."
The Jets are back on the ice Dec. 27 when they play host to the Minnesota Wild, one of the teams they must reel in if they want to keep alive their goal of a playoff berth. Both the Wild and Phoenix Coyotes have 45 points and are tied for the final wildcard spot, a full eight points ahead of the Jets.
But that fact was not front and center following the game as the Jets seemed more disgusted with themselves – and, again, how to fix their obvious inconsistencies – than focusing on the playoffs. The reality is unless they start stringing together some wins, and they haven’t won back-to-back games since Nov. 25-27 in New Jersey and Long Island, the playoff picture will fade long before the Olympic break in February.
The Oilers dominated the first period and led 2-1 after 20 minutes. The Jets rallied to tie the contest at 2-2 – Mark Stuart and Andrew Ladd scoring for the visitors – before the Oilers capitalized on the many Winnipeg turnovers to cruise to a 6-2 win. Taylor Hall paced Edmonton with a goal and two assists while Jordan Eberle, David Perron, Nail Yakupov and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins all had two-point nights.
"It was a game from the onset that, for me, we didn’t play very intelligent, we didn’t play the right way," said Noel. "We knew this game could get out of hand if we played the way we played. We got what we pretty much deserved playing that way.
"To me it wasn’t so much a specific moment in the game, it was the way in which we conducted ourselves from the onset… that was really the key to the game. We knew we had to check and we knew we had to defend in order to have success. If you want to look at a moment in the third or a moment in the second, that’s’ just not it. We knew 20 minutes in this was not going to go our way unless we changed the way we play."
Two of the Jets’ leaders were vocal after the game, their emotion and frustration flowing to a handful of reporters.
Asked where the late-game emotion came from – the Jets ended the game taking 61 minutes in penalties in the final four minutes after a skirmish following the Oilers’ sixth goal -- assistant captain Mark Stuart said:
"Is that a serious question? We were embarrassing ourselves. We were losing 6-2. God, I hope there would be some emotion or else you’ve got real issues.
"It’s the same old story. It’s just consistency and we haven’t been able to find it all year. It’s one good game and then we take a break. I don’t have a whole lot for you tonight. It’s pretty self-explanatory, I think.
"Write whatever you want and don’t take it easy on us because we don’t deserve it."
"It’s the same old s—t game aver game. I guess frustrating doesn’t begin to describe it," added Ladd. "We know what it is, we talk about it all the time. It’s the same thing over and over again. A team like this, you know they have a lot of offensive guys that can hurt you… you don’t want to put them on the power-play and you don’t want to turn the puck over and give them chances off the rush. And we did both those things."
Ladd finished the game in the dressing room after taking 14 minutes in penalties – minors for cross-checking and slashing and a 10 minute misconduct – after getting into it with Yakupov following the Russian’s sixth goal of the season and Edmonton’s sixth goal of the night. Earlier in the game Yakupov threw a forearm and goaltender Ondrej Pavelec’s head after missing a chance – a play that was missed by the officials but stuck with the Jets.
"I wasn’t happy with him throwing a forearm at our goalie’s head," said Ladd. "That’s pretty much it. If he wants to do that, he’ll have some stuff to deal with."
Bogosian received a five-minute major for spearing and game misconduct, Bryan Little was handed a misconduct and two minute slashing penalty, Stuart picked up a 10-minute misconduct and Chris Thorburn was also handed a 10-minute misconduct with 3:44 remaining – all coming at the face-off following Yakupov’s goal.
How do the Jets get this right?
"It’s just doing the right things," said Stuart. "It’s caring, I think, every night that you play the right way. It’s not that we don’t care, but when you don’t play the right way you’re letting your teammates down."