Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Penalties become a problem

Lazy play leading to short-handed situations, Ladd says

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There are more than enough issues to keep the Winnipeg Jets busy at practice these days.

A struggling offence that has produced just five goals in the last four games. The real number there is three in four games if you take out an empty-net goal and freebie last-minute tally against New Jersey.

Starts have been no asset, a trend carrying over from the pre-season. Just twice in seven regular-season starts have the Jets scored the game's first goal; they have led just once after one period.

And faceoffs, in particular less than 50-50 in six of the seven games, have gotten many nights going in the wrong direction.

Add to that a familiar obstacle -- penalties.

'That's all not moving our feet, not skating'

-- Jets captain Andrew Ladd on some of the team's lazy penalties

Entering Wednesday's play, the Jets were the NHL's most short-handed team.

In 2011-12, the club had a rampant discipline problem in this area in the first half and got it under control. In the lockout-shortened 2013 season, the Jets were second-worst in the league in this category.

Through seven games, Winnipeg has been short-handed 35 times and for 53 minutes 55 seconds -- that's almost a full game already -- both NHL highs.

Only once in seven games has the team given its opposition fewer than five power plays.

"Definitely a concern with the penalties in the offensive zone, the hooking and the holding," captain Andrew Ladd said Wednesday. "That's all not moving our feet, not skating. Definitely something we need to address and as individuals we have to take notice that we need to get moving and not be lazy and take lazy penalties."

And whatever you think about the officiating or the apparent weakness of some calls, when there's reaching and/or a stick is above the knees, referees see red flags.

"The penalties we have had are penalties, nothing to complain about," Ladd said. "That's on us to get our feet moving and make sure we're working."

Jets head coach Claude Noel seems to have no patience for this complication, familiar or not.

He pointed it out after Tuesday's 3-0 home loss to Montreal and was asked about it again on Wednesday.

"We've been down this road before," Noel said, obviously aware of his team's dangerous past in this area. "We'll deal with it again. We dealt with it last time, we'll deal with it this time.

"You look at the penalties and the way we're doing them. Evander (Kane) took three of them (Tuesday) and they're almost identical.

"Plays like that, there's only so much you can take. After a while, something has to be done so we'll deal with it again."

Kane, injured late in Wednesday's practice, was not available to comment on his own penalties.

Kane had gone four games without a penalty -- matching his best-behaved span of last season -- before Tuesday's rash of infractions.

tim.campbell@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition October 17, 2013 D2

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