Sometimes you just have to wonder how things get done these days. Take for instance Tuesday night’s performance by the Winnipeg Jets. That was a job that just didn’t get done.
Two days after shutting out the New Jersey Devils 3-0, the Jets were shut out 3-0 by the Montreal Canadiens. There are people inside the Canadiens organization who will suggest, quite openly, that the Devils probably have a better team — man for man — than the Habs (not counting Norris Trophy-winning defenseman P.K. Subban), but that doesn’t seem to matter. The Canadiens are well-coached and well-managed, the people running the team have loads of NHL experience, and there is some kind of voodoo that comes out in guys — not all the time, but quite often — when they wear that bleu,blanc et rouge uniform.
Tuesday night the Habs weren’t perfect, but they were close. They play a smart checking game and they protect Carey Price as much as they can, but they never seem to get in his space and cause too many mucked-up screen shots. Offensively, the have a handful of guys with some skill but for the most part, you might argue that Winnipeg’s two top lines have more upside that Montreal’s. You might not win that argument, but there is little doubt you could make it.
Price was terrific and was named the game’s first star. Subban, who logged 25 minutes was the second star and Montreal checked the Jets into the MTS Centre ice.
And what about that ice? Andrew Ladd might have scored early in the third period to make it 2-1, but the puck hit something on the ice as Ladd went to the net, bounced over his stick and rolled harmlessly into the corner. That’s not good. Especially in Winnipeg where our ice should be better than anyone’s in the league.
That aside, the Canadiens were still better. Sure, they were outshot 36-25, but while the Jets had some big shots from the perimeter, they didn’t have more than half a dozen great scoring chances. Montreal was one-for-five on the power play, Winnipeg was zero-for-three and the Habs won more faceoffs.
The Jets did some good things (they knocked the Canadiens around, outhitting them 19-11, but they had three obvious problems: they made two glaring errors in their own end that cost them, didn’t get a particularly good home goaltending performance from Ondrej Pavelec and didn’t take advantage of any of the half dozen great scoring chances.
It would be easy to blame Pavelec who was certainly not as good on Tuesday as Al Montoya was on Sunday, but the fact is, Winnipeg didn’t score. And when you have to produce a shutout in order to tie, that says a lot more about your offence than your goaltending.
The Jets early schedule — eight of the first 10 at home — was supposed to result in a great start to the season. Especially after the club came back from 4-2 down to win 5-4 in Edmonton in the opener. But something has happened on the way to the blistering start. Now 3-4 after the first seven, the Jets will have to beat St. Louis on Friday, Nashville on Sunday and Washington on Tuesday to even call the first 10 game stretch a success.
That was not in this team’s plans.