Kukla's Korner

Benny and the Jets

Coyote Ugly

Hundreds of Winnipeggers made the trek down to Arizona to see the Jets of old take on the new team on Saturday night, but their boisterous enthusiasm couldn’t help the new team on the ice. The Jets stunk up the Jobing.com arena in a 4-1 loss that highlighted everything this team has done wrong since the beginning of the season.

A goal by the Coyotes’ Daymond Langkow less than a minute into the first set the tone for most of the rest of the game. By the time the halfway point of the first came along, the Jets were already down 2-0. Their best hockey of the game was already behind them at that point, with a few shots from the perimeter (what else is new) ringing off Mike Smith’s goal posts.

It didn’t get any better from that point. Ron Hainsey took a double minor for a high stick early in the second which the Jets managed to kill off - in fact, their penalty kill was one of the few decent aspects of their game. The power play unit (or units, as it were, with the constant shuffle of players Claude Noel threw on the ice) went 0 for 4, and has yet to register a point this season. Let’s just say that when Tanner Glass is taking power play time, you probably have a special teams issue that needs resolving. The Jets work in the circles was also terrible - the Coyotes dominated the faceoffs, especially when Mark Scheifele or Alexander Burmistrov were in taking the draw.

One of the most painful things to watch with this team is their puck movement - so often the players can’t seem to make or take a crisp tape-to-tape pass. And that’s just when they can manage to find each other - it was amazing how many times the puck was “passed” to an empty area of the ice or to a Coyotes player. On the other side of the coin, each of the three teams they’ve faced in the regular season have been able to move the puck north-south with relative ease in both the neutral zone and the Jets’ end of the ice. There’s a notable lack of both active sticks in passing lanes and a physical presence along the boards. The Jets look soft and slow.

If the Jets want Evander Kane to step into a power forward role, Claude Noel needs to let him have more that 13+ minutes of ice time. He’s one of the few players on the Jets roster that’s willing to charge the net hard and generate scoring chances from in deep. Dustin Byfuglien certainly hasn’t looked very imposing out there so far, and while Nik Antropov is a big guy, he’s certainly not throwing the body around out there. Guys like the Coyotes’ Paul Bissonnette didn’t even need to engage the Jets in any sort of menacing, in-your-face kind of way. That would have entailed one of the Jets showing any sort of physical presence (other than Evander Kane running over Phoenxi goalie Mike Smith.

Back to Antropov - he managed to draw a penalty shot in the third period after getting hooked on a breakaway, but is such a big guy with a clumsy skating style that he never seems to get any speed going. It’s painful to watch. Not surprisingly, his penalty shot attempt looked like something guys try in pre-game warm-ups - a slow skate in before playfully trying to deke out their tender.

Captain Andrew Ladd got the Jets’ lone goal in the dying seconds of the second period, deflecting a point shot from the high slot past Mike Smith. Fluky deflections seem to be the only way the Jets can score right now - Jim Slater managed a couple of his own against the Blackhawks last week. Maybe it’s an indication someone should be sitting in front of the crease looking to cause trouble and redirect the numerous shots from the outside the Jets seem content to fire at goalies.

In the Jets’ net, Chris Mason looked a bit shaky at first, but managed to settle down and turn in an admirable performance, turning away 30 of 34 shots. Mike Smith, on the other hand, only had 19 pucks come his way.

The Pittsburgh Penguins roll into Winnipeg tonight, albeit without Sidney Crosby or Evgeni Malkin in the lineup. Despite those two omissions, I’d be shocked if we saw a performance much better than that in Glendale Saturday night. There are too many things inherently wrong with the Jets on the ice for them to have a “bounce back” kind of game. There doesn’t seem to be any leadership either on or off the ice, there are no visible systems in place (at least anything even close to working), their physical presence is lacking, and virtually every part of their game is deficient at best and abysmal at worst. Even the sure-to-be-boisterous MTS Centre crowd can’t help the Jets fix the aspects of their game that are so very broken.

Oh yeah, angry Jets fans or whatever can hit me on Twitter with the venom. Bring your ‘A’ game.

Filed in: Winnipeg Jets, | Benny and the Jets | Permalink
  Tags: phoenix+coyotes, pittsburgh+penguins

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About Benny and the Jets

Fifteen years ago, Ben's beloved Winnipeg Jets left town. He begrudgingly turned to the Montreal Canadiens for comfort and found none, and is now struggling to find a place in his heart for the Winnipeg Jets v2.0.

Ben is a Winnipeg-based freelance writer that writes a lot about wine and beer. Expect his son to be drafted into the NHL in 2025.

Send him an email at bmswpg@gmail.com and/or follow Ben on Twitter: @bensigurdson