Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 12/10/2014 (2783 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
LOS ANGELES — As they try to implement some new or revised systems and work towards a different, more efficient identity, the Winnipeg Jets saw this weekend it’ll be no easy chore.
They pounced on an opponent expected to struggle this year in the opener in Arizona, and had fun trying out their desired aggressive, speedy style in a 6-2 win.
But against elite, sure-to-be-playoff teams on the weekend, the Jets crashed helmet-first into a veritable brick wall.
They were the second-best team Saturday in San Jose, falling behind early and losing 3-0, and were schooled again Sunday in a 4-1 defeat to the Los Angeles Kings at Staples Center.
In this one, the Jets didn’t have so much trouble keeping up as they did making plays with the same quickness and crispness that the Kings did. And do. When you have the passes, chips, checks and blocks down to an instant and automated execution as the Kings do — this is how you win the Cup — you are hard to beat.
"They’re just better at parts of the game than we were," Jets coach Paul Maurice said after the game. "They came up with the pucks they needed to, got the pucks in deep and didn’t turn them over at the line quite as often.
"And they’re a little better around the net."
I just stood up for a teammate. That’s it. That’s really all it was.
Sunday’s result isn’t a condemnation of the Jets’ plan. Rather, it should hammer home the difference between simple speed and quickness of execution.
It was the first win of the season for the defending Stanley Cup champs, now 1-1-1.
The Jets dropped to 1-2 after opening with three on the road.
The problem Sunday wasn’t that the Jets didn’t compete or even give the Kings a push.
But they had immense trouble scoring until it was too late, and the problem was not lack of chances. L.A. had numerous difficulties escaping its own zone in the first in particular, and the Jets had enough good opportunities for two or three goals right there.
They eventually scored after the Kings extended an early lead to 4-0, with Bryan Little connecting for his third of the season.
More of the same
The Jets fell behind 2-0 to the Sharks on Saturday in San Jose, then drifted to 3-0 in the second period of that game, which was the final score.
Sunday against the Kings, Winnipeg was again down 2-0 in the first period and fell to 3-0 early in the second when Tanner Pearson took full advantage of a Jacob Trouba turnover in the neutral zone.
In this case, and likely because Pearson’s goal went through him and dribbled into the net, Michael Hutchinson got the hook from Jets coach Paul Maurice. In his first start of the season, he faced 13 shots and gave up three goals in his 22:03 of work.
Jeff Carter made it 4-0 later in the second on some more inattentive defence by the Jets after Ondrej Pavelec made a fine save on Tyler Toffoli’s point-blank rush chance, pretty much a copy of the Kings’ first goal, which Toffoli scored after Hutchinson made a great save on Carter’s in-alone chance.
Blake the brawler
Little did Jets GM Kevin Cheveldayoff know last summer that he was getting a player with multi-tasking hands when he re-signed right-winger Blake Wheeler.
Wheeler led the Jets in scoring last season when his new six-year, $33.6-million contract kicked in.
So far this season, Wheeler has a pair of goals and surprisingly, a pair of fights.
Sunday, he threw down and went straight after Kings defenceman Robyn Regehr after Regehr gave Jets centre Mark Scheifele a combo kneeing/tripping check near the Jets bench in the second period.
Wheeler drew the instigator penalty for this one and upon further review by the two referees, Regehr received an extra tripping penalty.
Maurice had no problem with Wheeler’s immediate action in that regard on Sunday.
"I like his fight and his compete, know what I mean?" the coach said. "That happens fast. So when you talk about fights in hockey, that happened real fast. He didn’t like the hit. Nobody did. And you want that reaction, for me, rather than turning around and screaming at the referee for a call.
"Clearly, we don’t need somebody else to come out and answer for it. It happens then and it’s dealt with then. I like how hard he plays, how hard he competes and it’s a gooperd example for our team."
Wheeler wasn’t thrilled to be asked about it after the game.
"I don’t want to talk about it. Not really," he said.
"I just stood up for a teammate. That’s it. That’s really all it was.
"I felt like it was knee-on-knee. So I think if it was the other way, somebody would do the same thing. So no, I do not think I over-reacted."
After going 11-for-11 in penalty-killing in their first two games, the Jets added three more kills against the Kings on Sunday.
They’ll come home with a perfect mark in that area, small consolation for opening three-game trip to Pacific Division rivals in the Western Conference.
Nashville Predators at Jets, Friday at MTS Centre, 7 p.m., TSN3, TSN1290.