Some things haven’t changed. Special teams are still a vital part of hockey. The Winnipeg Jets still haven’t grasped that idea, and it cost them yet again. Before a noisy throng at the MTS Centres, the Jets fell 3-2 to the Toronto Maple Leafs, giving up a shorthanded and a power play goal.
While the Jets did get a shorthanded goal, courtesy of Zach Redmond (his first NHL goal might I add) the power play was tepid yet again, going 0 for 4 when a man up. This has to concern head coach Claude Noel. The Jets simply couldn’t mount any sustained pressure with the man advantage. Too many times, the Jets are far too cute, making short fancy passes that are read far too easily by the penalty killers. The Jets also like to use the points, which opposing teams are adjusting to by having men cover the passing lanes back. The Jets need to find different avenues to create chances.
After a scoreless first, Redmond’s shorthanded goal opened the scoring at the 3:32 mark of the middle frame. The Leafs tied it with a shorthanded goal of their own, as Tyler Bozak intercepted a Paul Postma pass, raced in all alone, and beat Ondrej Pavelec high on the glove side.
The Jets took the lead early in the third, as Grant Clitsome’s seeing-eye point shot was tipped home by Andrew Ladd for his fourth of the season. The Leafs tied it with five minutes to go, as Matt Frattin deflected home his sixth of the season, from a Cody Franson shot. Then Alexei Ponikarovsky took a needless holding penalty, which eventually cost the Jets the game. Phil Kessel’s goal scoring troubles have been well documented this season. But with Kessel, all you need is one shot and boom. Kessel got his one shot, and simply wired home his first of the season over Pavelec’s glove for the game winner.
There were a couple of bright spots. Redmond is looking like a keeper on the blueline. The Ferris State graduate, who spent the lockout in St. John’s of the AHL, had another solid game and is making it very tough for Noel to keep him out of the lineup. Bryan Little also had a solid game and was probably the best forward for the Jets tonight.
Dustin Byfuglien missed his fourth straight game with a lower body injury. The Jets have been very hush-hush about his ailment, but Big Buff is deeply missed on the ice. Zach Bogosian participated in practice for the first time this season. The defenceman hasn’t played this season, as he recovers from offseason wrist surgery. There is a chance Bogosian could play next week, which would be welcome news to the Jets. Winnipeg’s next action is Saturday afternoon as they travel to the Nation’s Capital, to face the Ottawa Senators. The Jets will return home for a tilt with the Philadelphia Flyers on Tuesday night. Leafs coach Randy Carlyle returned to Winnipeg for the first time, since 2005, when he coached the Manitoba Moose. The former Jets defenceman received a standing ovation from the MTS Centre crowd.
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