Wakey-wakey, sleeping Jets

One lousy goal in three games just not going to cut it

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The big boys better wake up and they better wake up quick.

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Opinion

Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 18/10/2014 (3034 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

The big boys better wake up and they better wake up quick.

Bryan Little is the only Winnipeg Jets player to score in the club’s last three games, and predictably, those outings have all ended as losses.

Blake Wheeler, Dustin Byfuglien, Andrew Ladd, Mark Schiefele, Toby Enstrom, Zach Bogosian, Jacob Trouba. Nothing. Zippo.

John Woods / The Canadian Press Winnipeg Jets' Mark Scheifele (55) attempts the wraparound against Nashville Predators goaltender Pekka Rinne (35) during the second period of Friday's game.

Any time the Jets’ best players want to roll out of the wrapper and look alive will be just fine. Right now they’re asleep and this club can’t afford to have all of its guns go quiet at the same time.

Goalie Ondrej Pavelec, everybody’s favourite stooge in Winnipeg the last couple of seasons, has arguably been the team’s best player. And while Pavelec has been OK, he hasn’t stolen any games or been what anyone would call brilliant.

Scream about goals against all you want. But a team has to score. Right now the Jets are defending at a decent rate, having allowed 11 goals in four games for a 2.75 goals-against average — better than they’ve ended any season since they got to Winnipeg.

The counter is they’ve only scored seven goals and been shut out twice. Where’s the pop?

Uneven. It is the perfect word to describe the Jets right now.

Perfect on the penalty kill. Entirely futile on the power play. Sharper in their own crease. Shooting blanks in the offensive zone.

The result? A 1-3 record that some will shrug off as part of the early going, but will become troublesome if consistency and wins don’t soon begin to follow.

Friday night saw the Jets do some good things, but not enough of them. The Nashville Predators were able to sneak a pair past Ondrej Pavelec, while in their own crease Pekka Rinne was perfect in a 2-0 win.

The Jets are mediocre right now. Dishwater-dull rather than sharp enough to slice. Winnipeg’s best players aren’t producing. Same goes for the bottom end of the lineup. It all adds up a rather unsatisfying finish.

Hello. Wake up. Rise and shine. Shake off this funk. Any way one wants to put it. It’s time to get this season in gear.

The Calgary Flames arrive Sunday and they should be the type of team the Jets can roll over. But the Flames have put together three wins already, and the way the Jets are playing right now there are no gimmes on the schedule.

One thing about Bob Hartley’s Flames is they will grind. And skate and hit all night. Goalie Jonas Hiller has given Calgary spine with an early .934 save percentage. Calgary won’t be an easy two points.

But really, the Jets needn’t be worrying about the opposition right now. It’s their own game they need to fix.

No one need look any further than the top of the depth chart. Winnipeg’s top players have to find their games and begin controlling the play. In five-on-five situations Friday the Jets rarely hemmed in the Predators and put pressure on Rinne.

They lost the puck-possession battle and failed to generate offensive chances. It’s one thing for a team to lose its scoring finish for a few games here and there. It’s another, far more troubling scenario, when they can’t get the puck to the net.

Shoot more often and follow the puck to the net and try to make something happen off a rebound or a lucky bounce.

There must be some aggression. Some drive. The intangibles behind the statistics which belie a successful team.

The Jets have talent and speed. They are better than they’ve shown. So what? Results and not platitudes are what count. It’s like having a beautiful car in the garage but no engine under the hood. It’s not much good to anyone.

Time for the engine to find itself. And then fire itself up.

 

gary.lawless@freepress.mb.ca twitter@garylawless

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