A day after Dejan Kovacevic of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review lambasted the Winnipeg Jets in both print and podcast, blasting their lack of systematic play, the team went out in front of 15,004 of their loyal fan base and proved him right.
From the opening face-off, the Jets were manhandled by the Tampa Bay Lightning, culminating in a 4-2 victory by the visiting Atlantic Division opponents.
Move over, Calgary Flames, because these Jets are hot on your tail.
Winnipeg managed only a measly 14 shots over a three period span on goaltender Anders Lindback who, outside of a 5-on-3 which led to one of Winnipeg's two goals on the night, went untested much of the sixty minutes played. For a team who had every reason to come out with fire and passion after losing three straight road contests, the Jets instead were flat and showed little to no desire.
In the postmortem of tonight's disembowelment, Jets' players continued repeating the same mantra they have all season. They stated verbatim that they didn't play their game. That the effort wasn't there. That they vowed to be better moving forward.
Same song. Same dance. Same results.
They say the definition of insanity is doing the same thing repeatedly while expecting different results. For a Jets' roster and coaching staff that is now into their third year of existence, insanity has truly set in for their fan base.
If there is in fact a system this team employs during in-game action -- and apparently it does exist as many local media members contented after Kovacevic's original blog post -- it's both extremely flawed and rarely executed.
The Lightning, for their part, were a team that came in with an idea of how to dictate the pace of the game. After being passed over on Canada's 2014 Olympic roster earlier in the day, Martin St. Louis submitted his rebuttal to Hockey Canada. With the score tied at 2-2 heading into the final stanza, St.Louis would score the games next two goals, cementing the victory for Tampa Bay.
Though the score was tied for much of the game, the end result was rarely in doubt. On this night, Tampa Bay was the more prepared team. The more skilled team. John Cooper's line-up was meticulous in putting their stamp on the final game of their Western road trip, for which they finished with three out of a possible four wins.
Winnipeg has now lost four straight contests to Eastern Conference opponents and are off until Saturday when they will host the Columbus Blue Jackets. The hope here, faint as it may be, is that this roster as currently constructed can make some semblance of their so called "system". At least before insanity transforms into apathy.