Jets extend streak with 3-2 SO win over Red Wings

- November 13th, 2013

It’s a good thing the Winnipeg Jets took Wednesday off because there was plenty of news both in the NHL and the CFL to keep members of the media busy.

The Winnipeg Blue Bombers decided to fire head coach Tim Burke, while the Buffalo Sabres fired head coach Ron Rolston and longtime GM Darcy Regeir, bringing in Ted Nolan to be the interim bench boss and former Sabre Pat Lafontaine to be the president of hockey operations.

The GM search is underway and one of the names getting some consideration (at least when it comes to speculation) is Winnipegger Jason Botterill, who has been the Pittsburgh Penguins assistant GM for the past five seasons and spent time in the Sabres’ organization as a player before concussions forced him to retire.

Former Atlanta Thrashers GM Rick Dudley, whose services were not retained by the Jets after the franchise relocated, is also considered a candidate.

Back to the Jets, who kept their hot streak going against the Detroit Red Wings on Tuesday night at Joe Louis Arena with a 3-2 shootout victory.

Jets goalie Ondrej Pavelec was very good in this one, making 41 saves and only allowing a perfect wrister by Daniel Alfredsson in the shootout for his third consecutive victory.

The praise for Pavelec was flowing inside the Jets’ dressing room afterward.

“(Pavelec) was great tonight, he was our best player and gave us a chance to stay in it and get a win in the shootout,” said Jets captain Andrew Ladd.

“It wasn’t the greatest third period from us but we battled hard and (Pavelec) played great for us,” added Jets D Zach Bogosian, who scored his first goal of the season after a convincing head fake left Red Wings goalie Jimmy Howard down and out. “(Pavelec) kept us in it for pretty much the whole game. If anything, he deserves the credit for tonight.”

“Pavelec really put his best foot forward to help us win the game, in the first period and especially in the third, I thought he was dynamic,” Jets head coach Claude Noel said after the game. “He was really good and really helped us out.”

Speaking of Ladd, you can be sure he caught the attention of Red Wings head coach Mike Babcock — who doubles as the bench boss for Team Canada’s 2014 — during the past two meetings.

Ladd remains a bit of a long shot to make the team but I think he’s still under serious consideration, both for his all-around game and grit but also because of his ability in the shootout.

Canada’s forward group won’t be lacking talent but don’t forget what happened to Team Canada in Nagano in the shootout against Dominik Hasek.

Ladd is 5-for-5 this season, with three deciding goals and just so happens to have six deciding goals during his career.

Again, there’s plenty of hockey left to be played and several other options to consider for Ken Holland and company, but Ladd looks like he remains in the discussion.

By the way, Bryan Little continues to hold the hot stick, rifling home a perfect pass from Blake Wheeler for a blistering one-timer that gave him a team-high 11 goals.

“(Wheeler) made a great pass to me,” said Little, whose career high for goals is 31. “As soon it left my stick, it had a good chance of going in.”

Little’s shooting percentage is a whopping 26.2%, which is virtually unsustainable but he’s hoping to keep things going as long as he can.

On the other end of the spectrum, Evander Kane and Wheeler have both gone six games without scoring a goal.

During the stretch, Wheeler has three assists while Kane has only one helper and hasn’t been nearly as effective as he was in the early stages of the season.

Wheeler and Kane have both been streaky scorers during the course of their careers and have combined for 11 goals (six for Kane, five for Wheeler) so each is on pace for 20-plus goals. Going into the season, the Jets were probably hoping for 25-to-30-plus from both players, so there’s plenty of time left for those targets to be attainable.

Of larger concern is the Jets’ power play, which was 0-for-3 (including 64 seconds of 4-on-3 time during OT) and is now on a 1-for-47 slump.

It should be noted that the Jets play with the man advantage hasn’t been momentum sapping recently, but when you don’t score a great deal, losing the special-teams battle is a recipe for disaster.

Many people are saying the Jets are just doing the same things on the power play during the struggles, but Claude Noel is trying different forward groups and looking to mix things up.

As for the Jets’ penalty kill, they gave up two goals to Pavel Datsyuk and have surrendered four in their past two games after killing off 21 of the previous 22.

The PK is still operating at 82.4% and sits 14th in the NHL, while the PP is down to just 8.4% and is dead last among the 30 teams in the league (the same ranking the Jets ended last season with).

You can be sure that part of Thursday’s on-ice session will include special teams as the Jets return to the ice.

The Jets are back in action Friday against the Philadelphia Flyers, who defeated the Penguins 2-1 Wednesday on goals from former Brandon Wheat Kings C Brayden Schenn and 30 saves from Ray Emery.

Both the Jets and Flyers will take three-game winning streaks into Friday’s game at MTS Centre.

I’m taking Thursday off, so columnist Paul Friesen will handle the Jets’ coverage.

I’ll be back to check in after the morning skate Friday.

In the meantime, be sure to check out my quarter-pole report below, in Thursday’s paper or online at www.winnipegsun.com.

Here’s the link: http://www.winnipegsun.com/2013/11/13/winnipeg-jets-need-to-keep-on-growing-after-weathering-early-storm

Categories: Hockey

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