WASHINGTON — The Winnipeg Jets have implemented their own version of tanking.

Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 19/2/2015 (2477 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

WASHINGTON — The Winnipeg Jets have implemented their own version of tanking.

It won’t have anything to do with the nosedive for the first-overall draft pick but with the latest method, it may yet yield a better spot in June.

How?

Penalty killing, and its partner, penalties.

Specifically, lack of and too many.

Thursday brought another low point to the team’s recent Achilles heel — which in this case would qualify as an Achilles lower-body — when the Washington Capitals fired three power-play goals and happily accepted the gift of an easy 5-1 victory at Verizon Center.

In the 12 games since the all-star break, the Jets have killed just 33 of 50 penalties. That’s a clip of 66 per cent and plain and simple, that is not NHL penalty killing.

What it is, if it continues this way, is a formula to having a lot of time on your hands in the spring.

And what was once a top-five penalty-killing squad during the NHL’s first half has sunk to the league’s bottom half.

"Between the penalties, I didn’t think we were particularly good," said Jets coach Paul Maurice. "It’s not that we played a great game and the penalties bit us. We weren’t very good tonight."

Compounding matters, only now being exposed, is that the Jets are the NHL’s most short-handed team. They’ve handed 247 opportunities to their opponents. Going into Thursday’s action, only one other team had cracked the 200 mark.

The double-red-flag combination dropped the Jets to 30-20-10 and opened the door for some more tightening of the Western Conference race for playoff spots.

Tale of woe

A six-minute stretch in the second period illustrated the current crisis perfectly.

In this picture taken with a fisheye lens, Washington Capitals centre Nicklas Backstrom (19) celebrates his goal with Mike Green (52) and Alex Ovechkin, back left, during the second period of their game against the Jets Thursday. The Capitals won 5-1.

NICK WASS / THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

In this picture taken with a fisheye lens, Washington Capitals centre Nicklas Backstrom (19) celebrates his goal with Mike Green (52) and Alex Ovechkin, back left, during the second period of their game against the Jets Thursday. The Capitals won 5-1.

Fresh from a Toby Enstrom goal that brought them into the game at 2-1, Blake Wheeler immediately took a tripping penalty in the offensive zone.

Nicklas Backstrom then fired a wrist shot for the 3-1 goal, which looked decidedly weak on Jets goalie Ondrej Pavelec.

In the process of the scoring play, Jets’ Tyler Myers was guilty of tripping, so was sent to the box.

During this kill, defenceman Adam Pardy was also caught tripping. After nullifying 34 seconds of five-on-three, the Jets badly bungled a change. First they had too many players on the ice, and then not enough.

In fact, just two, and it turned into a Caps’ four-on-one, helping Backstrom to score again for a 4-1 lead.

And then of course, the Jets had to serve the too-many-men minor.

Oh, shoot

Their game was clearly off on Thursday, and the stats showed it.

Winnipeg’s six penalties included five for tripping and, of course, the too-many-men call, not the hallmark of their aggressive, physical game.

"Stick penalties, those are the one thing we’ve got to try to get out of our game," defenceman Jacob Trouba said. "Hard and physical penalties, that’s fine, that’s how we play."

And worse, Winnipeg had just 20 shots on Washington goalie Braden Holtby, their third-worst performance of the year.

Missed opportunity

Apart from all that penalty stuff, yes, the Jets had limited spark on this night.

But they may have squandered their best chance to control the game with their signature move, a great start. Winnipeg has scored first 36 times this season.

Jets forward Drew Stafford, who played after having missed most of Monday’s third period due to a minor injury, rang one off the post early.

And with the Caps committing five or six horrific turnovers in the first, the Jets just couldn’t get their foot in the door.

tim.campbell@freepress.mb.ca