After losing a game in Pittsburgh on Thursday that pretty much everyone expected the Winnipeg Jets to lose, it was back to "important" games on Saturday afternoon as the Southeast Division leading Jets hosted the second place in the Southeast Carolina Hurricanes.
The Saturday afternoon game is not for everybody. Some people may have been glued to March Madness, some may have needed to appease partners by taking part in non-sporting activities. These people were the lucky ones on this particular day, as the Jets dropped another frustrating home game as they sputter towards the playoffs. Winnipeg managed to put more pucks on net than the Hurricanes, and really did not suffer from a lack of scoring chances, but a 3-1 loss was still the result.
Things started going poorly for the Jets right from the opening puck drop. A minute into the game, Eric Staal flopped onto the puck behind the Jets' net before Dustin Byfuglien came to give him a nice love tap with his right hand. Buoyed by this friendly gesture, Staal made a wraparound attempt that led to a Tuomo Ruutu shot that was stopped by Ondrej Pavelec, but the 35 million dollar man Alexander Semin potted the rebound to give an early lead to the Hurricanes.
On the Hurricanes’ first power play of the game, they increased their lead to two. Jussi Jokinen muffed a good scoring opportunity before cashing in his next opportunity seconds later off a nice cross-ice pass from Joni Pitkanen. Most AIH contributors expressed a desire to pick up Jokinen when he was put on waivers earlier in the week, so it seems somehow appropriate that he stuck it to the Jets in this game.
The Jets had more pep in their step to start the second period, and it took less than 90 seconds for the Canes' lead to be cut to one when Evander Kane fed a pass to Olli Jokinen who was not willing to concede being the second best Jokinen in this game.
The dominant story line of the latter half of the second period was Winnipeg’s penalty kill as a parade of Jets went to the penalty box. Some good luck and good effort saw them escape the stretch without giving up a goal.
The Jets looked poised to have a strong third period after they had the momentum while at five-on-five in the second and then fired the crowd up by killing off all of the penalties. But looks can be deceiving, as the third started in a similar fashion to the first. 28 seconds into the period, number 28 -- Alexander Semin -- fed a pass to Eric Staal in the high slot. Staal took a shot that deflected off a Jet, through Pavelec’s legs and into the net to give Carolina another two goal cushion.
From there, Carolina stuck to a conservative cycle game as they methodically worked the puck along the boards while the Jets tried frantically to generate scoring chances. Justin Peters managed to keep the puck out of the net, and Winnipeg fell by a score of 3-1.
- Patrice Cormier played 1:06, Chris Thorburn played 4:53 -- boosted by some time on the penalty kill, Eric Tangradi played 5:49. I cannot help but feel that Claude Noel wants Chevy to give him different players for the end of the bench.
- Wellwood and Antropov both played around ten minutes, meaning that the team is relying way too heavily on Kane, Ladd, Little and Wheeler right now. Even if the team makes the playoffs, it is possible that those guys are going to be too worn out to put up much of a fight.
- Evidence that Dustin Byfuglien’s poor play of late is not related to fatigue: he was lazy and uninspired for the game’s first shift.
- With Enstrom back, could we please stop seeing Olli Jokinin used at the point on the power play?
- Olli Jokinen’s goal was his first at the MTS Centre. Maybe the second one will not take quite so long.
- The pass from Ladd to spring Little for a breakaway was a beauty.
- Derek Meech’s part in breaking up a Canes four-on-one was impressive – Pavelec’s goaltending was also key on the play. When Stuart is healthy, I hope Meech sticks in the lineup.
- It is hard to argue that Byfuglien did not deserve a penalty for dumping Jeff Skinner. Whether Skinner deserved a penalty for holding Buff’s stick before that is another issue.
- I hate seeing hits like the one where Burmistrov stuck his leg out on Riley Nash. Brings back bad memories of Ulf Samuelsson.
- The inconsistency of this team makes it hard to imagine Kevin Cheveldayoff will be a "buyer" at the deadline. Expect the Jets to either stand pat or trade away an expiring contract.