Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Defence still coming up short

Jets allow too many goals, plain & simple

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GLENDALE, Ariz. -- There was some speculation late in the week that Sidney Crosby might make his playing return in Winnipeg, but Jets fans should hope that's not the case

The Pittsburgh Penguins come to town on Monday and, with the Jets having allowed 13 goals in three games, the best player in the world would not be a welcome sight.

The Jets need a dose of Crosby like Winnipeg needs a snowfall. Both can wait.

"We're not going to win games if we're allowing that many goals and it's something we're aware of and it sticks out at us and it's something we have to work on," said Jets defenceman Zach Bogosian, minutes after Sunday's 4-1 loss to the Coyotes.

Jets goalie Chris Mason allowed four goals on Sunday but was hardly to blame.

"No, you can't blame the goalies. We work in six-man units on the ice and it's not just on the goalies or one player," said Bogosian. "We have to take pride in our defensive game and it starts with units of six."

Defence and goaltending was expected to be the strength of this Jets team but to this point that hasn't been the case.

"I think we need to make sure, moving forward, we haven't gotten off to the start we wanted losing all three games, but we just need to make sure we come together as a team and move forward," said Bogosian.

Mason stopped 30 of 34 shots on the night and for the most part was solid.

"This doesn't win in the NHL. Goaltenders, our whole team, we have to make a much better commitment to playing the systems. We're creating a lot of our own problems right now with turnovers," said Mason. "I just think that we're a little bit out of sync. We've played some good teams and I just think we're a step behind and we need to correct that in a hurry. We don't want to be 0-3 and we don't want it to get any worse and the schedule doesn't get any easier."

There are no secrets in the NHL and other teams will be focusing on Winnipeg's inability to keep pucks out of their net.

"Everyone watches video and they're probably saying to themselves they want to come after us," said Mason. "But right now our focus has to be on getting our own game together. What the other team does is inconsequential, we have to get our own game in order because it definitely isn't right now."

Jets coach Claude Noel doesn't like his team's goals-against trend one bit.

"Before the game, when I looked at our numbers, the numbers are what they are but I didn't believe they would continue on that path," said Jets head coach Claude Noel. "I thought the numbers would change, but our team proved me wrong.

"Our numbers reflect exactly where we've played. I believe we're better than that but we haven't proved it to ourselves yet. I'm not sure what we're waiting for."

gary.lawless@freepress.mb.ca Twitter: @garylawless

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition October 16, 2011 B2

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