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Photo Credit: © Terrence Lee-USA TODAY Sports

WTWF: Jets Limp Into Columbus Before All-Star Weekend

Tonight’s matchup marks the last game before the All-Star festivities going on this weekend. That means Winnipeg will enjoy over a week off to rest and recuperate. This break couldn’t come at a better time for the Jets who have plenty of players injured, but also seem totally defeated on the ice. With three straight losses coming into this game, Winnipeg continues to struggle in almost all facets of the game. Although the break is coming up, the Jets still have one more game to play. It would certainly be nice to enter the week with a victory, so here’s what to watch for in tonight’s game.

1) Effort

Every team will go on a losing streak at one point or another. The real issue with Winnipeg’s current skid is the way they are losing. After getting blown out by Tampa Bay, they played another poor game against the Blackhawks. They followed that up with another game last night that just seemed uninspired. For whatever reason, the Winnipeg Jets are putting up a really poor effort.

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It’s one thing to lose while playing hard and getting some chances, but Winnipeg is lazy on the forecheck, even worse on the backcheck, and downright terrible in front of their net. It’s the hustle plays where Winnipeg is currently failing. Everyone knows the team is skilled, but if the effort isn’t there, the team is going to struggle. We are seeing that play itself out on the ice.

The biggest thing to watch for against the Blue Jackets isn’t the goals, or the final score, it’s the effort that the team is playing with each and every shift.

2) Powerplay

The Jets were formerly a team that got by on mediocre five on five numbers because of their excellent powerplay. However, going 0-4 yesterday against the Hurricanes was one of the big issues during the game. With multiple chances to work their way back from a deficit, the Jets struggled to get any chances with the man-advantage.

Carolina completely eliminated Winnipeg’s powerplay with an aggressive style that forced the Jets to the outside of the ice. Scheifele only managed one shot attempt from his ever dangerous high slot area. While Laine was able to get a few shots off, the overall powerplay struggled all game long. The Jets even struggled to set up as they could barely get the puck into Carolina’s end. A successful night on special teams will go a long way towards righting the ship.

3) Mark Scheifele

It’s been an interesting few days for Mark Scheifele. After having a rough outing against Tampa Bay, he also struggled against the Blackhawks. His struggles have impacted his play on the ice as well with him appearing much more agitated than normal. It’s obvious that the recent losing streak isn’t sitting well with Winnipeg’s top centre. Against the Hurricanes it was another tough outing as the Jets seemed utterly defeated. In the closing minutes of the game, Scheifele took out Pesce in front of the net before Mrazek dumped Scheifele in the crease. After that the gloves came off as Pesce took a run back at Scheifele.

Dropping the gloves for only the third time in his career, Mark Scheifele was visibly angry, not at Pesce, but at how the recent games have been going. The frustration boiled over and the Jets finally showed some emotion in their play.

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Unfortunately, it was much too late to make a difference as there were only a few minutes left in the game. Hopefully the spirit shown by Scheifele is enough to get the rest of the team back into their right mindset.

Bold Prediction

With one win in their last six games, the Jets are firmly in a losing streak. To make matters worse, this is their last game before the break which means some players might have other things on their mind. After watching the last few games, it’s tough to imagine Winnipeg putting together a complete game in the second half of the back to back.

The Jets will lose, but not too badly as the Blue Jackets keep the Jets spiraling downwards with a 5-3 final.

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