By Scott Billeck – @scottbilleck
Sunday night, the Winnipeg Jets lost their first game in five outings, 2-1, to the Minnesota Wild. It would seem unfair to pick on a team that was on quite a roll, but the stench of another game the Jets couldn’t seem to close out is too potent.
The Jets are sitting on the fence at .500 after their latest loss, an all-too familiar perch for the team from Winnipeg. The loss to the Wild represented another game that had it been played with more urgency, could have resulted in a victory. More importantly, it was a four-point swing against a divisional opponent.
With Ondrej Pavelec keeping them in the game, the Jets — a team that has been on an offensive tear as of late — was unable to get it done. Again.
This is a familiar trend. Masked by a four-game winning streak, the Jets were somewhat able to forget about their pacifist problems late in close hockey games.
Yet, even during their latest winning streak, the Jets were unable to create consistent wins in regulation. Three of their four victories were claimed in the shootout.
Sure, the Jets fought back on some occasions and put themselves in a position to at least take a point, but it is going to take a lot more than that to win the real fight: The one in the Central Division standings.
The trend extends back to early October when the Jets found ways to not win. A 3-2 loss to Anahiem, a 2-1 loss to Minnesota, a 3-2 loss to Colorado and a 3-2 loss to St. Louis. Three divisional games, zero points. A 12-point swing and the unenviable spot of cellar dwellers.
The Jets regulation-plus-overtime-wins (5) statistic is among the worst in the league. Of those five, none have been won in overtime. The Jets have been prone to leave the heroics to the lottery of the shootout and lately they’ve been lucky. But we all know that being lucky won’t last forever.
The Jets five regulations wins, now in 22 games, is nothing to brag about. Neither is the their power play. The Jets sit fourth in the league in power play opportunities, but they have just eight goals in 77 power play attempts.
Killer instincts work when you can smell the blood of the opposition. The Jets need to learn to kill or they will continue to be killed.