The drive for five is alive, people! Normally, a slogan of that nature would entail positive connotations but in this case it's attached to the Winnipeg Jets.
For the fifth (!) straight game, the Jets have found themselves on the wrong end of the ledger, this time bowing out to a hungrier, better prepared and more desperate Montreal Canadiens by a final score of 4-1.
Things started well enough for the Jets' in the first when Grant Clitsome made a heady pass to Alexander Burmistrov, whose one-timer eluded back-up netminder Peter Budaj giving Winnipeg a 1-0 lead.
But for a team forlorn as their Southeast Division lead was being pried from their cold, lifeless hands heading into this evening's contest, it was only a matter of time before the wheels fell off.
In just over two minutes after scoring the opening goal, the Winnipeg Jets' wheels fell off.
The Canadiens carried its tempo for the better part of the middle frame, ultimately outscoring the Jets 3-0 over the second and third periods, highlighted by contributions by Michael Ryder and Alex Galchenyuk.
With the score deadlocked at 1-1 Winnipeg spent the opening moments of the second skating around like a team aloof and maligned, making it evident to anyone watching that their collective resolve was anywhere but at the Centre Bell at that time. Before the first ten minutes had elapsed, the score was 3-1 in favour of the Habs.
To put it bluntly, Winnipeg's performance tonight was bad, especially when you consider this was a game they knew coming in was a must win. Though they turned up the heat on Montreal in the third, it was the classic case of too little, too late. Quite simply, the Jets have far too many passengers than they know what to do with during this lacklustre skid. Evander Kane showed some emotion by pummelling the face of Alexei Emelin and maybe the team will glean some residual emotion from it as they go forth to host the Philadelphia Flyers on Saturday.
Winnipeg's loss coupled with a Washington Capitals shootout win means that the Jets' now find themselves tenth in the NHL's Eastern Confernce and with only nine games left on their schedule, it's literally time to put up or go home.
- In his first game this season, Aaron Gagnon registered 8:27 in TOI, which is way better than the 1:46 Noel was giving Patrice Cormier. That's pretty sweet, I guess.
- Mike Santorelli also made his debut for the Jets tonight and I felt he had a good showing. Though he didn't hit the scoresheet, he was 67% in the face-off circle and registered three shots while showing a lot of jump on a line with Alexander Burmistrov and Eric Tangradi.
- Speaking of Burmistrov, he finally hit the scoresheet again. I'm sure we'll hear about all the deficiencies in his game tomorrow on Twitter though.
- Holy back up goalies, guys! Whether it's Kevin Poulin or Peter Budaj, the Jets can't seem to solve them. Scoring woes are crippling this team.
- It's hard to pinpoint any one player for the team's lack of production; they've all been bad. It's rather pathetic that if Andrew Ladd, Blake Wheeler or Evander Kane aren't scoring every night, this team isn't winning.
- Winnipeg had a goal taken off the board early in the third on what was called goalie interference on Blake Wheeler. The score at the time would have been 3-2 and the team sagged as a result. When you're losing, nothing seems to go your way.
- In a move that defines #Noelogic, Dustin Byfuglien played on the wing tonight. The results weren't good; he finished a -1 and was benched towards the end of the game.
- I know we harp on it -- to the point that you're tired of reading it -- but holy shit the special teams on this team sucks. I can't count on my hands and toes the amount of games it's cost them to this point.
- Countdown the clamouring for Jacob Trouba in 3.... 2..... 1.....
- I'll be honest in admitting that I didn't watch much of this game as most of my efforts tonight were watching the Caps pry first place in the Southeast from Winnipeg's cold, lifeless hands. So all in all, Thursday was a good day for me.