Jets blow third-period lead, lose to Maple Leafs

- February 8th, 2013

It would be easy to say the Jets just had a bad minute in the third period in a 3-2 loss to the Toronto Maple Leafs.

But in order to do so, you’d have to be wearing rose-coloured glasses.

The truth of the matter was that shortly after Andrew Ladd tipped home Grant Clitsome’s shot from the left point at 3:48 of the third period, the Jets allowed some bad habits and bad decisions to creep into their game and it ended up costing them.

After battling to get a 2-1 lead, the Jets got tentative and were unable to close out the game properly.

On the equalizer from Matt Frattin, who tipped in a Cody Franson shot, the Jets were soft in coverage in the defensive zone essentially leaving Frason wide open at the right point and allowing him to get a big blast off.

On the ensuing shift, Jets winger Alexei Ponikarovsky tackled Clarke MacArthur and was called for holding and the Maple Leafs didn’t need long to put this game away.

After Ladd was checked just outside the blue line as he tried to shoot the puck down the ice on his clearing attempt, Tyler Bozak picked up the puck with speed through the neutral zone, left a nice drop pass and allowed Phil Kessel to take care of the rest.

Kessel had no goals through 10 games and after missing an open-net tap-in earlier in the period, showed no signs of a guy in a slump, getting off a wicked shot that beat Ondrej Pavelec high to the glove side.

Just like that, the air was sucked out of the balloon. Shoulders dipped and the Jets were unable to really recover.

A dejected Claude Noel met the media after the game and said it was time to juggle his Top-6 forwards again, as they’re just not producing enough offence at this time.

“You’ve got to look at making some changes, really. I’ve got the one line that’s minus all over the place, so you’ve gotta make changes. You can’t sit back and watch this,” said Noel.

Although it’s important to note the Jets top line of Olli Jokinen, Blake Wheeler and Evander Kane haven’t been together all season, the trio has currently produced 21 points and are a combined -20 on the plus/minus rating.

I’m in the group that believes plus/minus doesn’t tell the whole story, but the line has been on the ice for too many goals against.

Bryan Little has looked good at right wing, so I don’t think Noel reunites Wheeler with Ladd and Little just yet, but you never know.

How about trying Ladd with Jokinen and Little, then Wheeler with Burmistrov and Kane?

That might bring a balance among the shooters and the passers. Just a thought.

Here are some other observations from Thursday’s game:

* D Zach Redmond doesn’t look like a rookie. In just his fourth NHL game, Redmond showed great instincts to jump up on the rush and create a 2-on-1 while shorthanded, then buried a feed from Bryan Little with a perfect shot just inside the crossbar.

“Awesome. It’s always a great thing to get out of the way and something you always dream of. I never thought it would come on the PK, but I’m definitely happy to get the monkey off my back and get the first one out of the way,” said Redmond. “I thought it was pretty clear cut. Everybody kind of sucked over to the other side of the ice, and it kind of left me all alone. So I jumped up, and it was a wide-open two-on-one. (Little) made a great pass. I was going to shoot it and get out of there quick if I missed, so I wasn’t too worried.

“Every game you get a little bit more comfortable, kinda figure out what you can and can’t do. I’m more so focusing on trying to keep the puck out of my own end. That’s the most important, but jumping up and all that, that’ll come and the offence will come. I’m pretty happy individually how things are going so far.”

Redmond ended up second to only Ron Hainsey in ice time among Jets on Thursday, logging 24 minutes and 4 seconds while recording two shots on goal and two blocked shots. Noel has been praising his play of late (for good reason).

“Zach Redmond played really well. He’s just getting better, getting stronger all the time. One of our better players for a young player,” said Noel.

With the way Redmond has been playing, fans are already starting to wonder what the Jets are going to do on the back end once they get back to full health.

From what I’ve seen so far, it’s going to be tough to take Redmond out of the lineup. My best bet is that the Jets will carry eight D-men for a while and the situation will sort itself out.

* Toby Enstrom extended his consecutive points streak to eight games, picking up an assist on Redmond’s shorthanded goal. Enstrom has one goal and 12 points in 10 games this season, but said after the morning skate that he’s not worried about points and is trying to work on his all-around game.

* There’s no doubt that Ponikarovsky took a bad penalty at a bad time, but if the Jets want to get things back on track, their penalty kill must improve. Although they killed off three of four against the Maple Leafs and saw their percentage rise slightly, operating at 63.6 per cent is a sure recipe for disaster. Penalty killing is about confidence and the Jets have not be assertive enough when playing a man down.

* As for the power play, the Jets managed only one shot on four opportunities and gave up a shortie to Bozak after Paul Postma was stripped of the puck at the offensive blue-line.

* Great tilt between Jets RW Chris Thorburn and Maple Leafs LW (and Winnipegger) Frazer McLaren during the first period. Both players landed some big bombs and McLaren left the ice with blood dripping down his face. However, he came back and finished the game and surely enjoyed his first NHL game in his hometown. Same goes for Colton Orr.

* Nice gesture by the fans inside MTS Centre to salute Maple Leafs head coach Randy Carlyle during the TV timeout just past the midway point of the first period. Carlyle got a video tribute and fans rose to their feet for a standing ovation. Carlyle gave a wave and wanted the game to move on, but he told reporters afterward that he appreciated the salute. You can be sure he’ll always remember earning a big W in his first NHL game at MTS Centre as well.

The Jets are back in action on Saturday against the Ottawa Senators as part of Hockey Day in Canada.

Colleague Kirk Penton is on the road trip and will provide an update after the Jets skate in Ottawa on Friday.

Categories: Hockey

Subscribe to the post

Leave a comment

 characters available