Scoring? It’s overrated

Jets perfectly happy with low goals total, as long as they keep posting victories


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NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Some will call it boring and attack the flaws.

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 15/11/2014 (2824 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Some will call it boring and attack the flaws.

The Winnipeg Jets, involved in the lowest-scoring games so far this season in the NHL, see only positives and happiness in their 9-6-2 record as they head for tonight’s game at Bridgestone Arena against the Nashville Predators (6 p.m., City, TSN 1290).

In their 17 games, the Jets have scored 33 goals and given up 36, and that includes two goals credited on each side for shootouts.

James Guillory / USA TODAY Sports Jets defenceman Zach Bogosian had a strong night defensively against the Carolina Hurricanes. He is convinced the goals will come.

The real average for their goals and their opponents’ is less than four per game (3.82), the lowest in the league and far below the NHL’s steady average over the last three seasons of 5.5 goals per game, both teams combined.

“Well, it’s different for us, that’s for sure,” right-winger Dustin Byfuglien said Friday.

“A little bit (surprising),” said Jets left-winger Mathieu Perreault. “I know we haven’t scored that much, but we’ve been playing so good defensively.

“If we take a 1-0 lead, we feel like we’ll close it and win it. At the end of the day, you just have to get wins. We’re doing that right now and we’re really happy.

“For this team, (one that) hasn’t made the playoffs in so many years, to have the chance to perform and play well right now is just a great feeling in this room right now.”

In the last 10 games, there has been a marked difference in how the Jets have figured out their defensive game.

They’re 7-1-2 in this stretch, having scored 18 goals and allowed just 14. The latest score was Thursday’s 3-1 victory in Carolina.

“I guess in recent years, we’ve maybe given up a few more goals, scored a few more, but I guess it surprises me because I didn’t know the stat,” defenceman Zach Bogosian said of the overall lowest-total-goals number. “But our style of play has been very solid defensively and I think some people would say it takes away offence, but I think good defence leads to offence.

“We’ve had our fair share of chances. We just have to bear down, but that said, we’ve been playing with a lot of pace and created a lot of energy.”

Bogosian, who had a fine defensive night on Thursday, along with an assist on the game-winner, said the worry-warts ought to just relax right now.

The Jets are having fun, he said.

” ‘Fun’ comes to mind when you think of winning and the way we’ve been winning,” he said. “It would be great to go out there and blow teams out of the water 7-0, but those tight games where you’re battling, and see guys winning battles in the corners, kind of a grind that way, I guess that probably makes it a little more fun than blowing someone out of the water.

“It’s been fun hockey to play. We just have to keep it up. We’re feeling good. We’re a confident group right now.”

If you toss out a couple of empty-net goals, nine of these last 10 games have been one-goal affairs.

“I think if you look at how we’ve finished, that our third periods have been good, well, we have played with confidence with a lead,” Bogosian said. “We’ve also shown we can keep pushing forward up by a goal or down by a goal. It’s pretty easy to be aggressive when you’re down a few goals, but keeping the pressure up when you’re up a few goals, not letting your foot off the pedal, that’s been big for us. I don’t really sense a nervousness with us. We’re comfortable in these tight games near the end.”

“No nerves,” Perreault added. “We are comfortable. We feel like we’re just going to win. That’s a good feeling to have. You don’t always have that feeling but right now we do and it’s great.”

Jets coach Paul Maurice said that low-scoring games have not taken him by surprise. In one important way, he’s getting exactly what he wants, which is improved defence.

“I don’t know if surprise is the right word,” the coach said. “I think I like our offence more than our finish.

“There’s no part of what we’re doing with the players that they feel we’re sitting back and leaving offence on the table. We run a real aggressive forecheck, tight gap in the neutral zone and we can skate. Nobody’s coming in and saying we have to try to create more by doing something differently.

“It’s not a sit-back game.”

Just a winning one of late.

— — —

Friday, the Jets had less than half their team on the ice for a short practice at Bridgestone Arena ahead of their game tonight against the Predators.

This weekend marks the team’s third back-to-back scenario of the season, in Nashville tonight and in St. Paul, Minn., on Sunday.

“Guys just don’t need to put the equipment on every day and the schedule’s not getting any lighter,” said Jets coach Paul Maurice, whose team is finishing up a stretch of nine out of 11 games on the road Sunday before returning to the MTS Centre for games next Tuesday, Thursday and Sunday.


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