It seems as though if it’s not one thing, it’s the next for the Winnipeg Jets.
After wasting a stellar effort from goaltender Ondrej Pavelec in Friday night’s loss to the Nashville Predators, the Jets turned into an excellent effort in the first frame of Sunday’s Hometown Hockey game against the Calgary Flames. What did they have to show for it? A single goal, nothing more.
The Jets controlled the play, but were held at bay by steady Flames goaltending and a collapsing defense. The Jets needed more from their offense and simply didn’t get it. And it’s unfortunate for the Winnipeg supporters, because after the first frame, things went spiraling out of control.
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The Jets, who have only scored twice since their 6-2 drubbing of the Arizona Coyotes in their first game of the season, got the first goal thanks to strong play by Mark Scheifele. Scheifele, who benefitted from strong work in the corner by revelation Mathieu Perrault and a beautiful pass from Blake Wheeler, slipped a stick check to get enough wood on the feed to put it past Flames goaltender Jonas Hiller.
From that point on, it was almost entirely down hill.
The Flames, who were playing their final game of a six game road trip, absolutely dominated the Jets from the moment the puck dropped to start the second period.
In the first period, the Jets out-attempted the Flames, taking 30 shots toward goal to the Flames 12. The second was an entirely different story, as the Flames pushed back in a big way, changing the tides and pounding the Jets to the tune of 26-20 in shot attempts.
The Flames didn’t walk away from their dominating second frame fruitless, either. Three goals in a span of just under seven minutes gave Calgary a two-goal lead heading into the locker room. The tide turned again in the third, though the Flames can mostly attribute it to lead-protection tactics. The Flames added a fourth goal in the third, and the score would hold, as the Jets fell 4-1.
Just as the Jets wasted an effort from Pavelec on Friday, the best games of the season thus far from captain Andrew Ladd and sophomore defenseman Jacob Trouba resulted in a shower of boos from the Winnipeg faithful.
Trouba, who has struggled at times early this season, was without question the best version Jets fans have seen. At even strength, he drove possession for the Jets, even while starting a significant amount of his shifts in the Jets end. The Jets, in order to right a quickly sinking ship, need this kind of performance from Trouba on a consistent basis.
As for the captain, Ladd was a force to be reckoned with with the score close and the teams at even strength. With Ladd on the ice, the Jets had 12 more attempts on goal than against. Not including his one flub on a shorthanded 2-on-1, Ladd did about as much as you could have asked of him.
It was far from a perfect game for the Jets, of that there is no doubt. The issues remain. The power play was abysmal. Pavelec struggled tonight, but it’s not as much about that. The team sagged, didn’t respond to the Flames goals with much of anything, and couldn’t get the puck back once things started to go down hill.
Chatter was plentiful that a similar game, the final of former head coach Claude Noel’s tenure, had a comparable feeling. There’s no question that this won’t be the final game for Paul Maurice as bench boss, but it may not be long before that’s the case if the Jets can’t get out of this tailspin.