ST. PAUL, Minn. — If you thought the Winnipeg Jets looked slow and easy to defend in a 4-3 loss Saturday night to the Minnesota Wild, you weren’t alone.

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ST. PAUL, Minn. — If you thought the Winnipeg Jets looked slow and easy to defend in a 4-3 loss Saturday night to the Minnesota Wild, you weren’t alone.

Sophomore winger Nikolaj Ehlers said it is central to what ails the Jets (1-1-0), who play host to the Boston Bruins (1-1-0) tonight at the MTS Centre.

JIM MONE / THE ASSOCIATED PRESS FILES</p><p>Winnipeg Jets' Nikolaj Ehlers heads to the bench after scoring against Minnesota Wild goalie Devan Dubnyk in the first period of Saturday's game in St. Paul, Minn. </p>

JIM MONE / THE ASSOCIATED PRESS FILES

Winnipeg Jets' Nikolaj Ehlers heads to the bench after scoring against Minnesota Wild goalie Devan Dubnyk in the first period of Saturday's game in St. Paul, Minn.

"We’ve just gotta play the puck faster," Ehlers said after scoring his first goal of the 2016-17 NHL season Saturday. "We’re casual on the (power play)."

Winnipeg head coach Paul Maurice also spoke to the issue after watching his club generate only two shots on goal in three power plays.

The Jets managed eight shots in the final 40 minutes against the Wild.

"Waiting for things to open up rarely ever works," said Maurice. "Things open up after chaos is created and we didn’t create enough chaos in the offensive zone to open up some of the plays we were looking for."

Naturally, Maurice would welcome improvement.

"Coming up with some speed together so we don’t have to release the puck, we don’t have to dump the puck because we had a difficult (winning) possession back again," he said. "Winning those battles. At the end of the day that would be the problem, the story of this (game). Too many even pucks we didn’t come up with."

Gridlock on ice

Winnipeg’s offensive gridlock has also been triggered in part by the absence of veteran centre Bryan Little, who is out indefinitely with a lower-body injury suffered in Thursday’s season opener.

Working four raw rookies — Patrik Laine, Kyle Connor, Josh Morrissey and Brandon Tanev — into the lineup has also contributed to the slowdown, but Ehlers wasn’t looking for excuses.

"No matter how good we’re playing, there’s always more that can be done," he said. "And I think now what we’ve gotta do is go back to playing hard and simple. We had a pretty good first period, we shut (the Wild) down pretty well. That’s something we have to be able to do — full 60 (minutes)."

Moving Pavelec?

A recent report suggesting the Los Angeles Kings have an interest in acquiring veteran Jets goaltender Ondrej Pavelec makes good sense.

The Kings, who lost all-star Jonathan Quick to a serious groin injury that may require surgery, have salary-cap issues that could create a roadblock.

L.A. has about $US1.5 million in cap space available, and Pavelec, who was reassigned by the Jets to the AHL’s Manitoba Moose prior to the regular season, has a cap hit of US$3.9 million in the final year of his current contract.

The Kings current goaltending tandem of Jeff Zatkoff and AHL call-up Peter Budaj is less than ideal for a Stanley Cup-contending team.

Possible solutions could involve putting Quick on long-term injured reserve (which could provide some cap relief) or structuring a deal in which the Jets would retain some of Pavelec’s salary. Quick carries a cap hit of US$5.8 million.

mike.sawatzky@freepress.mb.ca Twitter: @sawa14

Mike Sawatzky

Mike Sawatzky
Reporter

Mike has been working on the Free Press sports desk since 2003.