There was plenty of disappointment in the Winnipeg Jets’ locker room after Tuesday’s 3-2 loss to the Philadelphia Flyers.
Not lost in the anguish were some important words from captain Andrew Ladd about not accepting the status quo and doing what it takes to be better.
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Jets head coach Claude Noel said this when asked if Ladd was leading by example?
“That’s what you expect from Andrew Ladd. He plays with his heart on his sleeve and works and gives you what he’s got. It’s what you look for out of your captain,” said Noel.
It’s not like the Jets played horrible in a close game with the Flyers.
They did some things well and generated enough scoring chances to win the game, but ran into a hot goalie in Ilya Bryzgalov, who endured plenty of booing but stood tall in making 24 saves as the Flyers won just their second road game in eight tries — a fact not lost on the Jets, who realized Philadelphia would be hungry after a 5-2 loss to the Toronto Maple Leafs on Monday.
“We knew they were going to come out strong after a loss like that. But at the same time, it doesn’t look good on our part that they came into our building and stole one on a back-to-back night,” said Kane, who set up Ladd’s second goal of the game, with 46.6 seconds left in regulation and the Jets’ net empty in favour of an extra attacker.
The Jets have played a quarter of the 48-game season and sit with a record of 5-6-1, good for 11 points. That currently leaves them tied for 11th with the Buffalo Sabres and three points behind the New York Rangers for the eighth and final playoff spot available in the Eastern Conference.
The Jets continue a three-game homestand on Friday against the Pittsburgh Penguins.
Here are some rapid fire thoughts on the game:
* The Jets were happy to have D Dustin Byfuglien back in the game, but he looked like a guy who missed the past five contests with a mysterious lower-body ailment and had some rust to shake off. Byfuglien helped the breakout, but was held off the score sheet and limited to one shot on goal (two were blocked, three missed the net) and had three giveaways. However, he was plus-1 in 24 minutes and 24 seconds of ice time and had three blocked shots and one hit. Byfuglien also showed some frustration on two occasions, getting involved in skirmishes after the whistle but wasn’t penalized on either one. Look for Byfuglien to be better on Friday night.
* Speaking of penalties, tough to ignore the tough debut for right-winger Anthony Peluso, who had more penalty minutes (four) than ice time (six shifts for 2:49) in his first NHL game. Peluso was a bit too eager and tried to get Flyers enforcer Zac Rinaldo to drop the gloves on his first shift, but it was late in the shift and Peluso dropped his gloves while Rinaldo declined the invitation and was hit with a holding penalty. It was a rookie mistake, but Peluso hasn’t played for a long time and was trying to get something going. He needs to do a better job of picking his spots, but he shouldn’t be crucified for it either. He knew what his job was, wanted to make an impression and Rinaldo is usually a willing combatant. Peluso’s second penalty for charging was a poor call by the official. Peluso was given a charging minor for a hit on Rinaldo, but he was coasting on the hit, didn’t leave his feet or use his elbow. The ref flat-out blew the call. Fortunately for Peluso, the Jets’ were able to kill off both of his penalties. But it’s probably going to take some time for the youngster to earn the trust of his head coach. Look for Chris Thorburn to be back in the lineup on Friday.
* Ladd scored two more goals and now leads the team with six on the season. He’s also second in points (to Toby Enstrom) with 11 in 12 games. It was one of the better games Ladd has played this season and he showed some fire in his post-game comments and this was precisely the right time for him to share those thoughts. The Jets can’t accept the level they’re at right now, often taking one step forward and another one back.
* Kane set up Ladd for the late goal and now has five goals and nine points in 12 games, but he’s gone seven games without scoring a goal. The slump is surely a bit frustrating, but Kane was engaged in this game (picking up three hits) and created plenty of prime scoring chances, picking up three shots on one shift late in the second period and a game-high six in the contest. If he continues to play like that, the slump shouldn’t last long.
* It was a sweet, no-look, behind-the-back pass from Blake Wheeler to Ladd for the Jets first goal at 14:12 of the first period. Pretty to watch. Wheeler had four shots on goal, Bryan Little had one and Ladd had two and finished plus-2 in the contest.
* Noel didn’t have a real update on the status of backup goalie Al Montoya, who made a second consecutive start but suffered a lower-body injury late in the second period and was replaced by Ondrej Pavelec for the third. Noel did say the injury occurred after a faceoff play in the Jets’ zone and didn’t think it was the result of two collisions with Flyers’ forwards (Daniel Briere and Jakub Voracek both bumped into Montoya) Montoya gave up two goals on 12 shots, but couldn’t be faulted on either the redirection by Brayden Schenn or the power-play slapper by Kimmo Timonen that made its way three a screen from Wayne Simmonds. Montoya will be re-evaluated by the Jets over the next couple days and they’ll decide whether or not they need to call up another netminder from the St. John’s IceCaps of the AHL. If they do, I’d bank on the more experienced Mark Dekanich getting the call. That’s not a knock on prospect Eddie Pasquale, but Dekanich has played in the NHL and is probably better suited for the recall at this stage of his career. (UPDATE: The Jets recalled Eddie Pasquale on Wednesday morning, which suggests Montoya is day-to-day at the very least. Since Jets are off Wednesday, they won’t likely provide an update on Montoya’s injury until practice on Thursday. Been told by those who cover the IceCaps that Pasquale is playing well right now. Pasquale is 14-19-2 this season with a 2.63 GAA, .912 save % and four shutouts in 36 games this season.
* Pavelec was pretty sharp in the third, turning aside 11 of the 12 shots he faced, the lone goal beating him was a slick pass by Voracek that went in off the skate of Tye McGinn. The goal required video review but was confirmed as a good guy. It looked like the puck may have actually touched McGinn’s stick after his skate, but regardless, there was no kicking motion anyway. No matter what happens with Montoya, Pavelec is sure to be in goal on Friday against the Penguins.
* The Jets are taking Wednesday off and so am I. We’ll catch up again on Thursday. Look for our comprehensive package in Wednesday’s Sun and online at www.winnipegsun.com.