Jets fall 4-2 to Capitals

- February 7th, 2014

ST. LOUIS — Greetings from the Show-Me State of Missouri, where the Winnipeg Jets play their final game before the Olympic break against the St. Louis Blues.

Before I look ahead, let’s take a look back at what happened in the Jets 4-2 defeat at the hands of the Washington Capitals.

After a so-so opening period, the Jets turned up the pace and took a 2-1 lead as Dustin Byfuglien completed a nifty play that included an Olli Jokinen drop pass to Devin Setoguchi and ended with Byfuglien roofing his blistering shot to the glove side of Braden Holtby.

That goal came at 5:41 of the second and the Jets played well but were unable to extend the lead.

That proved to be costly, as it was the Capitals who elevated their level of play in the third and left the Jets in the dust.

Giving up a lead in the third period is always cause for concern, but it’s far too early to suggest that it could be a sign of things to come for the Jets, who are 9-3 under Maurice and 28-26-5 overall.

“We’ve been good (with leads). We’ve been pretty responsible and confident at the same time with playing with the lead,” said Jokinen. “But (the Capitals) got their bounces. They have a lot of skill up there and they were able to push us back.”

The Jets were unable to generate much offence in the final frame, recording merely six shots on goal and a limited number of dangerous chances.

Several times, players got a bit too cute.

“A couple times we did have the puck and did have a couple of chances but we were probably making that one extra pass when we should have kept it simple and did what worked for us earlier in the game,” said Jets centre Bryan Little, who scored the Jets other goal on what was his 18th of the season. “It seemed like we were trying to make that extra pretty play and kind of got away from the way that we usually generate offence”

The Jets had only one power-play opportunity and they’re now in an 0-for-10 drought.

You can be sure that Paul Maurice and company will be taking a long look at some adjustments with the man advantage when the Jets resume practice after the Olympic break.

On the flip side, the Jets penalty kill was strong against the Caps’ dangerous power play — finishing 4-for-4.

“Our penalty kill has just been outstanding. The only downside is the eight minutes that you spend killing those are hard minutes. They’re not not passive minutes. To get to Washington’s power play, you’re spending an awful lot of energy with some key guys in our group. Four (minors) isn’t a huge number to kill, but it’s still eight solid minutes of pushing your best and it may have taken a bit of a toll on us,” said Maurice.

It was the sixth consecutive win for the Caps over the Jets, a subject I dealt with in my game-analysis column.

Who owns the Chiefs? Owns.

I was tempted to throw in the line for the column, but it just didn’t feel right but the Slap Shot reference can certainly be used in this blog. as it applies to the Jets.

The Capitals are in team that was in a bit of a funk going into the contest with only three wins in their previous 11 games, but it was the usual suspects who played a starring role against the Jets.

Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin wasn’t a dominant force, though he did deliver two big checks to Mark Stuart and Andrew Ladd before jumping on a loose puck after Nicklas Backstrom was cross-checked into Ondrej Pavelec by Toby Enstrom and chipping in the rebound for the eventual game-winning goal.

Some people wanted the play to be whistled down because Backstrom prevented Pavelec from having an opportunity to make the save, but the play was not reviewed and I think that was the correct call, since Enstrom clearly was the guy who caused the contact to occur.

As the Jets have seen before, Ovechkin often only needs one chance to deliver a dagger and Tuesday provided more evidence.

Prior to the game, I talked about how shocked I was that Troy Brouwer only had 11 goals this season. Wouldn’t you know it, he scored two beauties and has 13, giving him an outside shot to hit 20 once again.

And remember those struggles Braden Holtby was enduring this season, with his 3.00 GAA and .909 save %? Well, he looked more like the guy I thought could have an outside chance to be the third goalie for Team Canada last spring.

Not surprisingly, folks on social media continued their bashing of Pavelec, pointing out how his save percentage numbers have dropped during the past five games.

That’s the way it’s going to be. I don’t consider any of the four goals to be softies, though Pavelec possibly could have played the puck off the end boards  a little better before Tom Wilson’s game-tying goal.

There were some defensive breakdowns by the Jets in this one that reminded many of the pre-Maurice days.

I asked Maurice for his thoughts on his teams structure?

“We know where we were when the mistakes went in and we were either beside him or behind him or next to him but not in control of him,” said Maurice, not wanting to spend much time dwelling on the negatives. “Like I said, through two periods of hockey on the road, we were very pleased. We were controlling the game in this building. Then fell behind in the third.”

The Blues remain one of the best teams in the Western Conference (and the NHL, for that matter). They’re coming off an overtime win over the Boston Bruins and are one of the best teams on home ice.

In order to avoid returning finishing this trip 2-2, the Jets will need a determined effort against a Central Division foe they’ve beaten once this season, albeit in a shootout.

“We have to take what we can from this game and finish strong before the break,” said Jets defenceman Zach Bogosian. “We obviously don’t have anything to save it for so we’ve just got to give an all-out effort in St. Louis. They’re a good team and it will be a good challenge for us.”

On the statistics front, Stuart finished the game with a whopping 12 hits in just under 20 minutes of work.

Given the marketplace, Stuart is the kind of guy that is going to generate interest from contending teams as a guy who can give you quality minutes on the third pairing, while contributing to the penalty kill and leadership group.

Although the Jets remain a bubble team right now, I contend the team should sign Stuart to a two or three-year extension and keep him in the fold.

Speaking of defencemen, the Jets recalled Paul Postma from his conditioning stint on Friday.

Postma, who has been out of NHL action since late October with a blood clot in his calf, had one goal and six points in four games witht the St. John’s IceCaps of the American Hockey League.

UPDATED: The Jets skated at 2:30 this afternoon and while Andrew Ladd and Byfuglien missed the workout for maintenance purposes, Maurice confirmed both guys will play against the Blues.

Based on the line rushes and D pairings, the Jets are tracking to dress the same lineup as the past four games, meaning D Zach Redmond and C Eric O’Dell will be the healthy scratches.

While the pre-Olympic roster freeze passed at 2 pm CT, the Jets can still send players who don’t require waivers down to the minors and I expect Redmond and probably O’Dell will be sent to The Rock so they can get some game action in.

Following up on what Maurice said following the morning skate on Thursday, Al Montoya will get the call in goal against the Blues.

Montoya has stopped 64 of 66 shots against the Chicago Blackhawks and Montreal Canadiens in his two starts under Maurice, both victories.

Enjoy your Friday and I will post a pre-game tee-up from Scottrade Center on Saturday before the 1:10 p.m. puck drop.

Categories: Hockey

Subscribe to the post

Leave a comment

 characters available