Five Straight Losses (OK, Two Officially). Now What?

TAMPA, Fla. — When the Winnipeg Jets returned from a very difficult seven-game road trip, my colleague here at, Matt Eichel, called it a "confidence building road swing."

He was right, too. The Jets had just gone 3-2-2 against Philadelphia, Tampa, Florida, the Islanders, New Jersey, the Rangers and Buffalo and improved from 2-5-1 to 5-7-3. As Eichel pointed out, Bryan Little finally scored his first two goals of the season, Mark Flood emerged as a legitimate NHL defenseman and Ondrej Pavelec demonstrated that he could backstop his team and play consistently well from one game to the next. 

Although head coach Claude Noel wasn’t particularly happy with the way the trip finished — overtime losses to New Jersey and Buffalo and a 3-0 shutout loss to the Rangers, he did concede that three wins, two losses and a couple of extra points was not to be considered negatively. Noel believed his young charges could take a lot of good from the trip and he expected they would. 

Now, however, Noel is left to wonder what’s happened to the confidence.

Suddenly the Jets have lost five straight (because of the overtime rule, it’s officially two, but the Jets know the scores of the their last five): a 3-2 overtime loss to the Devils, 3-0 to the Rangers, a 6-5 overtime loss in Buffalo, 4-2 to Florida and 2-1 to Columbus. Saturday night’s loss to the Blue Jackets was particularly disconcerting.

For one thing, Columbus is the team Noel coached on an interim basis at the end of the 2009-2010 season. It was also a team that entered the game with a record of 2-12-1 and was struggling to find a reason to continue under head coach Scott Arniel. In fact, if there was a coach in the NHL in danger of losing his job without notice, it was Arniel.

But Columbus scored the first goal and right when Noel expected a little jump from his struggling young Jets, he got nothing. Like a jockey asking his horse for just a bit more down the stretch, Noel asked his team for a little extra on Saturday night and simply didn’t get enough.

Granted goaltender Steve Mason played well for the Jackets, but even though the Jets outshot Columbus 36-27, they could manage only a shorthanded goal from defenseman Mark Stuart.

The Jets continue to be one of the most inconsistent teams in the game. They scored five against Buffalo, but in the other four games in this five-game losing streak, they managed two, zero, two and one. You aren’t going to win often in the NHL with five goals in four games.

The Jets are now 5-9-3, last in the Southeast Division and 14th in the East with three home games this week with Tampa, Washington and Philadelphia. Those three games will go a long way to determining what kind of team these Jets will be for the rest of the season. Can they beat three teams with at least eight wins each that are obviously better than they are — at home?

These will be character games at a time in the season when an inconsistent, last-place team can change the course of its campaign. If nothing else, it can get its confidence back. 


  • Romulus' Apotheosis

    This isn’t an expansion team. I’m not a big fan of rebuilding given 25 yr old UFA. Going for first overall doesn’t help attract free agents who want to win, and it can become self-perpetuating. It worked for Pittsburgh. It backfired for Ottawa and Edmonton. Ottawa set futility records. They might’ve won in 2003 if played Spezza earlier (2 assists in 3 games against NJ in best series I remember), but the real 2006 Cup Final was Wings against Ducks. Edmonton had lesser prospect group after their Cup run and are stuck permanently rebuilding.

    I like our early GM moves, signing an UFA college guy and snagging Maclean. Drafting a top-5er. But the real test was when the season started. Hainsey was a + on bad teams and is replaced with prospect Postma who is our farm’s biggest minus. He put the puck right down for Columbus in the low slot and skated away. On the PP he tried a weak shot through two ready Columbus D instead of fast cycle or dump to corner. Enstrom is our best offensive defenseman; is out for a month. Why aren’t we picking up a D? It would give option to put Buff on FW later to shake things up when D healthier.
    Why take this for granted? This could be our goalie’s best yr of career. Only Burmistrov looks sure to improve. Antropov, Oduya, C.Mason, Buff and maybe even Ladd have already peaked. I like that we have a dozen guys who will go once in a while. In the 90s I started cheering for Detroit and Oilers after we stopped trying. I stopped cheering for Oilers after didn’t get a goalie. The GM said will be active at Canada Day 2012. Why wait? A young team improves but we have only slightly above average youth. Two more D went down last night. The price for playoffs just went up. If one of the goalies really sucked or got hurt I’d say get a goalie. If the 3rd liners didn’t replace top line, I’d say get FWs or give Scheifele more ice time.

  • Romulus' Apotheosis

    …if we are going down this route. Pittburgh was able to draft two Hart Trophy candidates. Malkin and Crosby. Concussed Crosby is a once every 5-10 year player and Malkin ever other year. So you wait 5 years in the cellar if you’re lucky. Ottawa spent forever in last place then tore apart their team. Havlat for +4M/yr Preissing. Not re-signing Cup winner Chara and in retrospect overpaying Spezza. I never thought Phillips was more than a #4 defenceman but still a better high draft pick than Daigle. Chicago rebuilt last year while making the playoffs even though some of the prospects they got didn’t pan out. They had Campbell and Huet making $12M/yr that maybe prevented a dynasty if perfect GM moves.

  • Romulus' Apotheosis

    …meant overpaying Redden and in 2007 Detroit Anahiem were class of NHL. Burmistrov has awareness of Datsyuk. The waiver wire last yr saw Valibik and Grabner waived, who both had upside. Grabner could’ve maybe been had from NYI for a 2nd rounder before 30+ goals. Buff sin’t playing like #1 D. Didn’t even want to mention the NYI rebuilding effort and tech billionaire roster moves. Washington and Bsoton are stacked and I this looks like our best year to beat Washington for a cup run…until realignment. After signing FAs, have to wait for them to gel anyway. Why even bother trading for Buff and Ladd if rebuilding?! Toronto went with AHL centres and goalies last few years with two teams worth of D. Are we going to be like Toronto and try to control which competitor we give cup rings to? No shots on net for over a peroid against crappy florida suggests immediate shakeup (improvement).

  • Romulus' Apotheosis

    Like our trades, picks for extra picks. Since need to give scouts time. Given 25 yr old FA try not to get to many college or Euro leaguers unless ready to play. Garth Snow turned his Schenn pick into a dozen high draft picks and then traded them all back for Calvin DeHaanan. It migrained me tracking those trades down. Life is precious and I’ll never get that time back. Two CFL games today and oilers blackhawks and eventually you run out of time to watch games and you die. Even the Blackhawks wouldn’t have made playoffs if not traded for 5th D Campoli. They reacted to a hole on their team. The Leddy move looks brilliant after he bombed in the best overtime I ever saw. Chi Det New Years was best game of last yr even with injured Lidstrom.
    Obviously TB Phi proves take away 1/2 a pt for regulation tie or 3pt regulation win and only 2pts or 2pts divied up for regulation tied game. The last few minutes of a tied game should be edge of your seat. Slightly thicker redline would force TBs three players across the centre to come forward an extra foot or two.

  • Romulus' Apotheosis

    …oooo. A little less arm strength on that late throw to Green and it’s a pick or at least tackle.
    Those few yards lost on the last regulation rush were costly…

  • Romulus' Apotheosis

    Keystone is an idiot. How much time did you waste writing all that? Not like anyone reads these comments anyways, or the articles for that matter…

    Head over to Illegal Curve or Arctic Ice Hockey for articles worth reading, and lively debate.