10 Things We’ve Learned

Here are the 10 things we learned during Wednesday night’s 4-3 Jets overtime loss in Washington:

1. The Jets are now 8-9-4 after the loss to Washington. Caude Noel’s team is so close to being good, it’s scary. But dumb mistakes, by both the players and the coach, have cost the Jets at least seven points this season. Take the stupidity out of the turnovers, bad pinches, 3-on-2 and 2-on-1 rushes, the mishandling of personnel and bad goals and the Jets might be golden. As it is, they’re 13th in the East.

2. With Tobias Enstrom injured, Zach Bogosian has been a monster. Wednesday night he played 27:02 minutes, had an assists, was a plus-two, led the team with seven hits, had three shots and two blocks. Too bad he’ll likely be suspended for a game or two for a hit on Winnipeg-product Cody Eakin of the Capitals.

3. Why did Coach Noel bench Alexander Burmistrov? The most talented player on the team played only eight minutes on 12 shifts. Sure, he might have made a mistake or two, but if that was the criteria for playing or not playing, then Dustin Byfuglien would play two minutes a game. Nobody makes more glaring errors than Byfuglien and yet he played 23:28 on 30 shifts on Wednesday and eventually cost the Jets the game. To quote Cris Carter, "C’mon man!"

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4. Ron Hainsey returned to action after missing 16 games and he looked like he never missed a shift. Hainsey took 31 shifts, played more than 23 minutes, blocked seven shots and was a plus-two. Nice effort. 

5. After a dreadful start, the Jets have now killed off 27 of the last 29 penalties they’ve been forced to kill off. The penalty-killing unit has risen from 29th to 18th in two weeks and that’s significant. Now at 80.6 per cent, the unit has come a long way and it looked terrific on Wednesday night.

6. The line of Andrew Ladd, Kyle Wellwood and Nik Antropov had an outstanding first period and played well most of the way. When it’s at its best, the Ladd-Wellwood-Antropov Line has developed into one of the best in the NHL. Ladd and Wellwood each had a goal and an assist, Antropov had an assist, Antropov and Ladd were plus-two while Wellwood was plus-one. Everytime they were on the ice, they made something happen. They’re fun to watch.

7. With Enstrom hurt, the Jets have received some very nice performances from Bogosian, Hainsey, Mark Stuart and even Mark Flood. But both Byfuglien and Johnny Oduya were sloppy, mistake-prone and minus-two on Wednesday and that must change. Then again, try this: Sit Jason Jaffray, make Byfuglien a forward and give Oduya some help. Other than having Byfuglien whine that he wants to play defence, I bet it would make the Jets a better team.

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8. Ondrej Pavelec made his 13th consecutive start in goal last night. Chris Mason will probably go Friday in Raleigh or Saturday in Boston, but if I were Noel, I’d let Pavelec continue the streak until he felt he needed the rest. The kid is starting to look good and gain some confidence even though he still has terrible numbers (3.21 GAA to go with a .898 save percantage).  

9. If Jason Chimera’s winning goal taught Claude Noel anything, it’s that Dustin Byfuglien is a forward (here I go again). Big Buff’s mistakes on pinches cost the Jets two goals on Wednesday, including the winner. If he wants to play up front, let him play up front, but in the best hockey league in the world, when you get caught and the play turns the other way, it’s very likely you will be scored upon. Twice, mistakes while playing like winger cost Byfuglien and the Jets a game — and that’s the fourth time this season.

10. The loss was hardly the end of the world for the Jets. They still got a point and have recorded at least one point in four straight games. And while they’re 13th in the East today, a couple of wins in Carolina and Boston this weekend, could quickly vault them into 10th. At least they aren’t the Islanders.