Archive for February 15th, 2013

Jets fall 3-1 to Penguins

- February 15th, 2013

The effort was there but once again, the scoring punch was not — until it was too late.

The Winnipeg Jets ran into another hot goalie and ultimately fell 3-1 to the Pittsburgh Penguins on Friday night before another capacity crowd of 15,004 at MTS Centre.

There’s no doubt the Jets played a more spirited game, especially during the second period, but were unable to solve Marc-Andre Fleury until there were 95 seconds left in regulation time and their net was empty in favour of an extra attacker.

Jets newcomer Eric Tangradi — acquired for a seventh round pick from the Penguins on Wednesday — has seen Fleury (who made 25 saves) put on that type of show before.

“He made a couple of really big saves at big times,” said Tangradi, who skated alongside Olli Jokinen and Kyle Wellwood for the most part on Friday. “We had some good pressure for moments during the game and that’s kind of the style he plays, to just get in front of the puck and he was able to do so.”

With time winding down, Jets captain Andrew Ladd converted a pass from Bryan Little to make it a one-goal game but by then, the damage was already done and Craig Adams completed a solid night with an empty-net goal with 28.7 seconds left in the third period.

After being challenged to raise their standard of play by both head coach Claude Noel and Ladd in recent days, the Jets did just that but didn’t find a reward in terms of the win-loss column.

Finding a way to follow up the effort is of utmost importance as a surly Boston Bruins club rolls into town to close out a three-game homestand on Sunday.

Those Bruins blew a lead and fell 4-2 to the Buffalo Sabres Friday night, so it should be a feisty affair.

There’s no question the Jets will be without Toby Enstrom on Friday after the mobile blue-liner suffered what is believed to be an upper-body injury after getting hit by Penguins winger Pascal Dupuis just two minutes and 30 seconds into the contest.

It was just the second shift of the game for Enstrom, who played a total of 67 seconds and left the ice clutching his right arm.

That left the Jets to play the game with just five blue-liners, including Zach Bogosian, who was playing his first game in 10 months after undergoing off-season surgery to his wrist.

Bogosian more than helped pick up the slack, playing 25:38, which was third on the team behind Ron Hainsey (28:17) and Dustin Byfuglien (25:55).

Bogosian showed off his skating ability and got involved physically, giving the Jets an immediate boost.

“Obviously as the game went on, you get worn down a little bit but for tmy first game back, my conditioning felt pretty good,” said Bogosian. “At the start of the game, I felt great when I stepped on the ice and everyone started cheering. It kind of gives you a little more boost than you normally have. Like I’ve said my last year-and-a-half playing here, it’s a pleasure playing in front of these fans. To feel appreciated like that is obviously a special thing. It’s good to be back.”

The injury to Enstrom (two goals, 13 points in 13 games) opens up another opportunity for Paul Postma or Grant Clitsome.

Noel didn’t have much to say about the injury, noting it didn’t look like it was going to be day-to-day.

The Penguins scored first, lighting the lamp at 3:19 of the first period.

Joe Vitale came bursting down the left wing and got a good shot off that was stopped by Ondrej Pavelec, but he couldn’t control the rebound and was essentially down and out but still managed to stop Adams twice before his third chance finally went in.

“A defenceman went down and kind of slid into Pavelec. We had people on the backcheck right there and we got caught reaching. We probably need to stop in better position,” said Noel.

With the game 1-0 for the Penguins, Jets rookie D-man Zach Redmond was called for interference on what was a marginal call that has been called on-and-off by officials this season. The rule is there, no doubt, but the officials need to establish some consistency when it comes to making the call.

“I’m not sure how much of a call that was on (Zach) Redmond. It’s kind of a buzz-kill,” said Bogosian.

Noel wasn’t about to be lured into the officiating debate during his post-game presser.

“I’ll let you guys make that call. I don’t know,” said Noel. “You tell me. I don’t have a comment on that play. I’m going to stay clear of that one.”

The call on Redmond was questionable, but Jets defenceman Mark Stuart was hit with a trippiing call 23 seconds later when his stick got caught between the legs of Penguins D-man Kris Letang.

That left the Penguins with a two-man advantage and they made no mistake, getting a one-timer from James Neal for what was his 11th goal of the campaign.

The Jets put up a fight but were unable to draw closer and fell to 5-7-1 on the season. And the road ahead is clearly not an easy one, with the Bruins coming into town Sunday and then nine of the next 11 games to be played on the road.

Other quick hits from Friday’s game:

* Ladd’s goal was his team-leading 7th of the campaign and he has 12 points in 13 games.

* Evander Kane has now gone eight games without scoring a goal but he picked up another assist and has five goals and 10 points in 13 games this season.

* Tangradi made a strong impression in his debut, taking 16 shifts for 12:42 while picking up one shot on goal, four hits (all coming in the first period) and two blocked shots. He’s a nice addition and should be given an opportunity to round out his offensive game as time goes on. We’ll take a closer look at his debut in Sunday’s paper.

Here was Noel’s take on Tangradi’s debut:

“You noticed him. He was physical, played with size, made plays with the puck. He didn’t look out of place at all, or nervous. He looked good,” said Noel.

* The Jets held the Penguins stars, Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin, to one assist each. Both helpers came on Neal’s one-timer on the power play that made it 2-0 for Pittsburgh. Crosby had two shots on goal, Malkin had three. Adams actually led the team with four shots on goal, but three came on the one flurry and the other went into the open net.

Jets and Penguins ready to go — Matt Cooke draws a crowd

- February 15th, 2013

Interesting morning at the downtown arena.

The Pittsburgh Penguins always draw a crowd when they roll into the MTS Centre to face the Winnipeg Jets and today was no different.

Plenty of talk inside their dressing room about the Matt Cooke/Erik Karlsson collision that resulted in the Ottawa Senators star blue-liner coming away with a 70% severed Achilles’ tendon.

Cooke has plenty of support inside the room and I though he handled himself incredibly well, under tough circumstances.

It’s clear that his past reputation is a big factor in how the incident is being perceived, at least by the Senators — the latest comments had Sens owner Eugene Melnyk basically calling Cooke a goon, suggesting he had no place in the NHL.

Here’s Cooke’s take:

Cooke on Melnyk comments:

“Obviously, I’m sorry that Mr. Melnyk feels that way. But I understand the position that he’s in. It’s not easy.”

what have past few days been like…

“I obviously felt bad about the cut and just hope that he has a fast recovery. I know it’s not fast, but as fast as possible.”

pretty emotional to have to deal with this?

“This is different than it was in the past for me. I know where my head is and how I feel about the play and that’s what’s most important.”

Given how hard he’s worked to repair his image, has it been tough to deal with though?

“I mean, if I went back to when I made the comments about changing my game, I never thought (references to his checkered history) would stop or end over the course of my career. I’m trying to hide that persona and I’m prepared to do it for the long haul. I was prepared for it from the media.”

Unfair that coaches go back to that past though…

“I’m not one to judge whether it’s unfair or not. People are entitled to their own opinions and they’ll have their own, regardless of what I do.”

did he reach out to Karlsson?

“I reached out to him via text message. Whether or not he responds to me, I understand. At the end of the day, it was a freak, unfortunate accident and I can’t control anything else but that.”

Here are a few other comments about Cooke from Sidney Crosby, Tanner Glass and head coach Dan Bylsma.

Crosby on Cooke:

“With Matt’s history, he probably gets a tough call on that one. I think that’s unnecessary.I think we all saw the play and know what happened and know that it was an accident. If you ask anyone that understands the game at all, they’ll tell you that it’s pretty hard to try to intentionally do what he did. Unfortunately, his past creeps in and people probably give him a hard time. He’s really tried to clean up the way he plays and I think he’s done a pretty good job with that. His past gives him a tough guy, but he’s made a strong effort of making sure that he’s better.”

Dan Bylsma on Cooke:

“I feel the pain of the Senators and the injury to their great player in the game, a great player on their team. If anyone understands an injury to a good player, we’ve had a number of them the last few years so we understand their pain and where they’re coming from. When you look at the play we’re talking about, it’s an unfortunate play that happens and we’ve had one like it, with Jordan Staal, where a skate hits a skate and ends up in an injury. It’s unfortunate.

“As soon as I heard what happened to Erik, I felt for the Senators and I felt for the game, because it’s a great player. I agree with Bryan Murray, you come to watch this guy play, he’s that good. I feel their disappointment in some of their comments.”

Can Cooke escape his reputation?

“For some people, (the reputation) will (follow Cooke). There are people that are making comments that haven’t really seen him play the last two years. There’s no question he’s made an adjustment, you can see it in his game, you can see it in numerous hits that he’s had this year, where he’s adjusted. I don’t think people really watch that closely. They’re eager to jump on and talk about previous history. There’s definitely been a change in Matt’s game and how he approaches the game, the way he hits in the game.”

In terms of news, as expected D Zach Bogosian is in for Jets, as is Eric Tangradi, who had the line of the year so far when asked about facing his former team in his Jets’ debut.

For Penguins, LW Beau Bennett will make his debut and has an interesting connection to Winnipeg as his grandparents grew up here.

Here are the projected lineups for both teams…

JETS

Andrew Ladd,Bryan Little, Blake Wheeler
Evander Kane, Alex Burmistrov, Nik Antropov
Eric Tangradi, Olli Jokinen, Kyle Wellwood
James Wright, Jim Slater, Chris Thorburn

Toby Enstrom, Dustin Byfuglien
Ron Hainsey, Zach Bogosian
Mark Stuart, Zach Redmond

Ondrej Pavelec (Eddie Pasquale)

PENGUINS

Forwards
Chris Kunitz-Sidney Crosby-Pascal Dupuis
Matt Cooke-Evgeni Malkin-James Neal
Beau Bennett-Brandon Sutter-Tyler Kennedy
Tanner Glass-Joe Vitale-Craig Adams

Matt Niskanen-Kris Letang
Brooks Orpik-Paul Martin
Simon Despres-Deryk Engelland

Marc-Andre Fleury (Tomas Vokoun)