Hockey Headlines

Saturday, 14 November 2015

Yellow-Washed

Well, that was ugly. In what can only be described as "the worst game of the year", the Winnipeg Jets got their rear ends handed to them by the Nashville Predators tonight in a 7-0 blowout that saw the Jets neither show up on the scoreboard nor on the ice. The only place they made an impact was in the penalty box, but the game was already way out of hand when the Jets decided to have a team meeting in the sin bin.

The mistakes were many in this one, but Nashville showed an ability to keep the Jets pinned in their own zone. Far too often, the Jets were unable to clear the puck from their own zone, and the resulting turnover was usually fished out of the back of their net. The defensive breakdowns, the missed assignments, the TimBits-like defensive coverage, and the seeming lack of desperation from this team makes me wonder what was said between periods after trailing 4-0 and 5-0.

Head coach Paul Maurice pulled no punches when he was asked if he felt bad for his goaltenders considering his team's performance. "No, I don't feel bad for our goaltenders," Paul Maurice responded. "They're all a part of it. We had a lot of chances to stop the puck. It's a tough life."

Let's go through this, goal by painful goal. We'll start with Calle Jarnkrok's goal at 4:45 of the first period.
Absolutely awful forecheck followed by two missed pokechecks followed by Trouba not picking up Jarnkrok. Jarnkrok was one-on-four in the Winnipeg zone, and he was allowed to tee up a puck from the face-off dot. Simply brutal.

We move to Craig Smith's goal at 5:58 of the second period.
Turnover at the offensive blue line, but the Jets are matched up pretty well on the two-on-two with players coming back. Yet Drew Stafford and Dustin Byfuglien can't stick-check Filip Forsberg as he crosses into the Winnipeg zone, and they allow him to skate out of harm's way to find Seth Jones. And now all five Jets are watching the puck and not watching Craig Smith set up a lemonade stand beside Hutchinson. Jones to Smith, and it's 2-0. How both Ben Chiarot let a highlighter-yellow jersey skate past him to the crease is unfathomable.

Seth Jones strikes again, this time at 12:01 of the first period.
Why is Chris Thorburn cheating so much? His check is Seth Jones, and he's a country mile away from the young star. Trouba and Stuart can't make a stick-check, and Thorburn isn't anywhere near his man to break up the pass. Is there even a system being played at this point?

The Seth Jones goal would spell the end of Hutchinson's night, but Ondrej Pavelec wouldn't fare any better as Mike Ribeiro struck at 14:33 of the first period.
Mark Scheifele allows a no-look pass from Craig Smith to find Mike Ribeiro. Scheifele was a step behind Smith as his check escaped him, allowing Smith to find the puck and shovel it across the top of the crease. Mark Stuart, who stood watching Ribeiro, had no idea where the puck was and simply let his man go unchecked after jousting with him seconds earlier. One of the best offensive players on the Predators didn't even have his stick tied up as he stood at the edge of the crease. Brutal.

The rout was on at that point, but this game was beyond terrible to watch. While the Jets did manage 20 shots on Pekka Rinne, only a couple could be considered of the "dangerous" variety. Pekka Rinne won't be beaten by many pucks on most nights, so a team has to come ready to play against the Predators. The Jets, to sum this up, were not ready. Not even close.

"You just have to continue to go, no matter how hard it seems," Jets defenceman Mark Stuart said after the game. "After this stretch and especially this game, you feel down obviously, but we're professionals and we don't have time to feel down. We have another big game coming up, so we can't afford it."

Yeah, I'd say so. They'll visit the St. Louis Blues on Monday after the Blues dropped a game to the Blackhawks, so this losing streak has all the potential to continue as the Central Division has beat up on the Jets. The Jets have been outscored 18-6 in their last three games against the Wild, Stars, and Predators, so things are going to have to change quickly if they hope to salvage the road trip with some points in St. Louis.

If they plan on playing like they did tonight, though, it might be better to forfeit right now.

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

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