Time: 8:30 pm CST
The Winnipeg Jets have their backs against the wall. After putting forth their best effort in game three and still coming up empty, they face elimination to the hands of the Anaheim Ducks. The Ducks have been the better team possession wise for most of the series, but the Jets put in their best performance in game three.
The Jets biggest problem continues to be the second line. Although the line has enough skill to be able to score at a decent rate, there is no real defensive force on the line and without that getting the puck out of the Jets end is a problem for them. There are two (different) solutions that Paul Maurice can try to help the second line improve. The first is Mathieu Perreault can be moved up to the second line and Drew Stafford moved down to play with Lee Stempniak and Adam Lowry. Because Stafford is not the strongest defensive player this may be a problem as Lowry's line is facing the Ryan Kesler line for the Ducks. The second solution can be switching Michael Frolik and Blake Wheeler. Moving Frolik off the top lines gives the second line a player who is very good at driving play and is a strong defensive player while Wheeler has had a lot of success on a line with Andrew Ladd and Bryan Little in the past, This may be the best solution for all lines involved.
The other issue facing the Jets is defensive structure. The Jets have been susceptible to defensive lapses, especially off the rush. This is not as easily fixed as changing up the lines. The Jets defensive system was dropping off near the end of the regular season, but Ondrej Pavelec playing out of his mind hid the flaws. The forwards stopped being flawlessly supportive of the defenceman, a trait that was evident on the Ducks first goal of the game where the forward missed the rotation and Byfuglien did not cover for the error. The defensive support is gone and it is leaving the Jets vulnerable.
All is not lost though. The Jets just have to remember to play 20 minutes instead of 19 for all three periods to have more of a chance. They need to play like they did in game three instead of games one and two. And they need to sort out the defensive zone. But the Jets have been resilient all year. Hopefully the clock hasn't struck midnight on them yet.