The Winnipeg Jets appear to be in freefall. Nothing is going right for the team and when pressed about the recent failures, no one has any solutions. I don’t expect the players to say much, but the coaching staff being stumped by the struggles serves as a reminder of how far off this team is from genuinely competing. Winnipeg got an even harsher reminder against the Ottawa Senators, conceding the game-winner with less than 2 minutes remaining in regulation. Where does the team go from here?
The First Period
The Jets were pretty quick out of the gates. They were pressing higher up the ice, forcing Ottawa into silly turnovers, and generally pestering Sens netminder Filip Gustavsson. Winnipeg wasn’t creating anything insanely dangerous, but the pressure eventually led to some disciplinary issues for the Sens. On the power play, the Jets didn’t look atrocious at first. That quickly changed after a loose puck rolled into the neutral zone, with Connor Brown and Nick Paul in pursuit.
The puck hopped along the walls past Neal Pionk, who met the figure of an official at center-ice. Paul blew by Neal and fed a quick pass to Brown, who roofed it past Laurent Brossoit. Winnipeg followed that up by dumping pucks to Ottawa’s net and failing to tie the game. I’m fairly certain there was also another shorthanded breakaway surrendered that the Sens completely screwed up. Lovely period, Jets, lovely period.
The Second Period
At this point, I was starting to lose focus. The Jets had a few decent opportunities, particularly the Morrissey left-side chance that Gustavsson robbed. Beyond that, though, Winnipeg really didn’t get much going at even-strength. That was at least partly due to the Jets earning a billion power plays.
Incredibly, all 6 power plays Winnipeg received went scoreless. Even accounting for 1 of the power plays ending prematurely due to a penalty, that’s embarrassing. I get that Gustavsson and poor puck luck conspired to bottom the Jets out on special teams, but you cannot go scoreless on 6 power plays. Creating at 5v5 was hard enough. To fail to scratch a goal out with over 10 minutes of 5v4 time is just sad.
The Third Period
The Jets had a decent amount of jump in the final frame of action, and even managed to tie the game! Josh Morrissey dropped deeper into the left faceoff circle where he used to pick corners, and greased a shot through Gustavsson. Winnipeg had a lifeline and tried to grab the go-ahead goal. With this team, though, you know disaster awaits around every corner.
Tonight’s catastrophic mistake came with less than 2 minutes remaining. Winnipeg got caught scrambling in the defensive zone, allowing the Sens a late chance to grab the winner. As is often the case with Winnipeg’s defensive structure, a man was left unmarked with room to shoot. Nikita Zaitsev capitalized, blasting the puck top-shelf. Just like that, Winnipeg’s evening was done and the losing streak extended to a franchise-record 7 games. There are no takeaways worth highlighting, other than the obvious; Winnipeg is in real trouble.