Lots of skill… and fixing to do

Brightspots, breakdowns characterize pre-season loss

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There were moments of pure brilliance, offset by a stretch of just-plain awful.

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 25/09/2014 (2988 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

There were moments of pure brilliance, offset by a stretch of just-plain awful.

And so as dress rehearsals go, the Winnipeg Jets served up what would be best described as an entirely predictable performance in their second pre-season game, a 3-2 loss to the Edmonton Oilers at the MTS Centre that — once again — had many desperately wanting to pound their finger on the fast-forward button to the real action.

The Jets built a 2-zip lead through the first half of Wednesday’s contest, gave it up in a horrific nine-minute stretch to end the second and then didn’t have enough left while operating on fumes when it mattered in the third.

Phil Hossack / Winnipeg Free Press Edmonton Oilers centre Jordan Eberle (14) finds the Winnipeg Jets crease a little crowded Wednesday evening at the MTS Centre. Jets defencemen Jacob Trouba (8) and Josh Morrissey (36) tie him up in front of goalie Michael Hutchinson.

The result evens the Jets’ pre-season record at 1-1, with five games left to go before the opener Oct. 9 in Arizona against the Coyotes.

But it’s the little details — the continuing work on systems, the defensive breakdowns — that led to the outcome and will have coach Paul Maurice & Co. busting out the whiteboard at practice on Friday.

“That’s just all about human nature — at the 10-minute mark of the second period we started to be pretty happy with ourselves,” said Maurice. “Two shifts prior to (Edmonton’s) first goal we started dangling at the offensive blue-line… sometimes you have to get pucks deep and get after it. That’s where we had been good.

“But that’s human nature. You take the path of least resistance and we certainly did that for 10 minutes.”

 

REUNITED AND IT FEELS SO GOOD

The juiciest storyline heading into the matchup with the Oilers was the opportunity for Jets fans to witness Evander Kane, Mark Scheifele and Blake Wheeler reunited as a trio. The line played only a few games together last season, but was put together again by Maurice in an effort to find regular linemates for Kane and give the club two consistent lines with some offensive punch.

The line created several chances early, including a breakaway by Kane that led to a penalty shot (he hit the crossbar behind Laurent Brossoit) and finished the night with 14 shot attempts and looked especially dangerous as a unit on the power play and on the penalty kill.

It was exactly the kind of collective performance that left everyone wanting a taste of more.

“We had some good opportunities to score and got on the puck pretty quick,” said Kane, who finished with one assist.

“We showed some flashes of some good things and I think we’re only going to get better as we continue to play together.

“For the first game I thought it was decent. As a group we were a little rusty, especially late in the second where we got sloppy and weren’t executing our plays and lost focus there.”

 

YOUNG GUNS? HOW ABOUT THE OLD GUARD?

As much as fans in Jets Nation have been fixated on the team’s prospects — Nik Ehlers, Josh Morrissey, Adam Lowry, Nic Petan and Scott Kosmachuk — the men trying to hold off their challenge aren’t going to simple knuckle under.

Veterans Matt Halischuk and TJ Galiardi scored the Jets goals — Halischuk hit the post inside the final five minutes — and served up the kind of solid work that keeps them in discussion for spots on the team’s bottom six.

Both are former double-digit goal scorers in the NHL — Halischuk had 15 in 2011-12 with Nashville; Galiardi hit 15 with Colorado in 2009-10 — but the pair is also trying to re-establish themselves as consistent NHL contributors.

 

THE LAST LINE OF DEFENCE

Michael Hutchinson played the whole game in net for the Jets, kicking out 28 of 31 shots.

And as much as the second-period meltdown was all about defensive lapses, it was his play in the third period — where he stopped all 13 shots he faced — that was just as important an evaluating tool

“It was unfortunate that we gave up the lead in the second period, but I just tried to clear my head and give the team a chance to win,” said Hutchinson. “You can’t really let in a third-period goal at this level. I just tried to really bear down and keep the team in it.

“We had some great pressure at the end with the power plays and the goalie pulled and I really thought we were going to tie it up. The bounces just didn’t go our way.”

 

ed.tait@freepress.mb.ca

Twitter: @WFPEdTait

 

 

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History

Updated on Wednesday, September 24, 2014 7:47 PM CDT: Updates headline

Updated on Wednesday, September 24, 2014 8:35 PM CDT: Updates headline

Updated on Wednesday, September 24, 2014 9:35 PM CDT: Updates headline

Updated on Wednesday, September 24, 2014 10:09 PM CDT: Canadian Press write-thru

Updated on Wednesday, September 24, 2014 11:09 PM CDT: Local write-thru, slideshow added

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