Jets fall 4-1 to Wild

- September 19th, 2013

The Winnipeg Jets lost 4-1 to the Minnesota Wild and fell to 1-2-1 as they hit the midway point of their pre-season schedule on Thursday night at MTS Centre.

To reiterate, while it’s only the pre-season and it would be silly to put too much stock into a team’s record or the score in this game, there were some things that clearly concerned head coach Claude Noel, things that he said he would address when the team is back on the ice Friday morning.

“Sometimes, those are things that happen in pre-season,” Noel said during his post-game media address, when asked about how it can occasionally be tough for players to crank up their game at this point of the exhibition season. “That’s where, to me, you have to find your inner strength and you have to find a way to resolve those things.

“It’s a long season, yes. But our job is to perform and that’s how we’re judged. That’s everybody. Coaches, players. I think it would be a hard game to look at and say, ‘we put our best foot forward in this game.’”

The Wild dressed what looked to be an inferior roster, with guys like Mikko Koivu, Zach Parise and Ryan Suter among those left at home, but the young guns stepped up, including Matt Dumba (one goal), Charlie Coyle (one goal), Nino Neiderreiter (one assist) and Mikael Granlund (one assist).

With the game tied 1-1 after Dumba and Bryan Little traded first-period goals, the Wild pulled away by scoring twice in 16 seconds during the second before Steven Kampfer iced it with an empty-netter with 65 seconds left in regulation.

“Sometimes you get caught looking at the roster and you get led down the path where you think it’s going to be an easy game and then you don’t have success,” said Noel, who dressed plenty of candidates for the opening-night roster. “You can’t have success until the work is provided, game in and game out. There is no easy way to win games.”

There were times when the Jets top line created some things, but much of the last half of the game saw plenty of juggling among the combinations, with Mark Scheifele bouncing between checking lines (with Matt Halischuk, James Wright), scoring lines (Evander Kane and Blake Wheeler) and a hybrid unit with Kane and Wright.

There was plenty of talk after the game about an blatant elbow delivered by Wild D Kyle Medvec to the head of Scheifele at 8:09 of the third period.

Scheifele was coming down the right wing and Medvec nailed him, prompting Jets enforcer Anthony Peluso to jump in immediately.

But before Peluso could hand out any frontier justice, Wild centre Zenon Konopka entered the fray (as a third-man in) and prevented the fight from occurring.

While the Jets found themselves with a two-minute power play, Kenopka stayed in the game and actually help kill off the minor penalty.

Fortunately for the Jets, Scheifele (who was knocked out of the Ontario Hockey League final with a concussion) was fine and finished off the game.

Kane, who was clipped by what appeared to be an accidental high stick by Medvec earlier in the game, asked the Wild defenceman to fight in the third period but Medvec declined.

I asked Kane (who finished the game with 10 hits) if he was surprised that Medvec didn’t want to dance after and he replied: “I’ll take it as a compliment.”

Speaking of compliments, Noel handed one out when asked about rookie D Josh Morrissey after the game.

Morrissey spent the evening paired with Dustin Byfuglien and had another strong showing, in just over 20 minutes of ice time.

“For me, I thought he competed,” said Noel. “When you watch Josh play, you can see that he plays with passion, regardless of the game. He plays to win and you can see he’s engaged in the game. I thought he was very good in the game.”

Morrissey, the 13th overall pick in the 2013 NHL Entry Draft, had a great chance from the slot in the third period as Byfuglien found him in the high slot during 4-on-4 action but the shot was deflected by a Wild defender.

“I guess I saw the shin pad or the stick, whatever deflected (the shot) up,” said Morrissey. “I was just trying to get it top corner. Unfortunately, it got deflected.”

The reality is that Morrissey is going to play in the Western Hockey League this season with the Prince Albert Raiders, but as long as he keeps up his play, the coach might call his number a few more times in the pre-season.

The Jets are back in action Saturday against the Wild at Xcel Energy Center.

If another round of cuts isn’t coming on Friday, you’d have to expect them to come on Sunday — as the Jets will want to be down to just a few extras for the final roster spots for the final three pre-season games, when the intensity usually starts to rise as the beginning of the regular season approaches.

That’s all for now.

 

Categories: Hockey

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