The Winnipeg Jets lost 5-1 to the New Jersey Devils in Newark on Tuesday night. If you’ve ever been to Newark, you know what a stinker is.
Not far from the industrial entrails of New York City, Newark is a tough town that doesn’t welcome guests with open arms. Tuesday night, the city’s hockey team fleeced the Winnipeg Jets as starting goalie Chris Mason allowed four goals on 15 shots and got himself yanked.
After it was 4-0, it was essentially over and both teams looked as if they were ready to call it a night. Because both Toronto and Washington lost, the Jets didn’t lose any ground and should probably just forget this game ever happened.
Ilya Kovalchuk had two goals while Patrik Elias had a goal and two assists as the Devils drilled the Jets and left Winnipeg at 7-12-1 on the road this season. The Jets are now 0-7-0 in the second game of back-to-back games and whatever it is they’rte eating for breakfast, just isn’t the right nutrition. This team looks spaced out in the second game of back-to-backs and head coach Claude Noel knows he needs to do something.
Still, despite the loss, the 10th-place Jets remained just two points out of ninth and three out of eighth as both Toronto and Washington lost.
It was painfully obvious, however, that Noel was unhappy with his team’s performance.
"I didn’t like the game," said the coach, during his post-game media scrum on TSN Jets TV. "I didn’t think any one of us played very well coming off a game where we were really good. I didn’t think we played well enough to win. Frustrating? Frustrating wouldn’t probably be the right word. It’s something we have to deal with… something we have to work through."
Once again, Noel was asked the magic question: "Are you just too tired in the second game of back-to-back games?" Noel grimaced.
"Back-to-back, to me, is a poor excuse," he said. "Look, we weren’t good. I’m not quite sure what we’re going to do with these back-to-back games. What we’re doing now isn’t quite working. If I was able to change things before, I would have changed things. I haven’t been able to find the right button for the back-to-backs."
Once again, Winnipeg played without Dustin Byfuglien, Zach Bogosian and Blake Wheeler, although Wheeler is expected to return tomorrow night when the Jets face the Buffalo Sabres — a team they know they can beat — at MTS Centre.
In the meantime, the 21-20-5 Jets, a team that is 2-6-1 in 2012, needs to find some consistency. Either that, or a scorer, some depth and a leader — or just a tough guy — who can get this group fired up.
Because there are nights when this team looks lethargic and Tuesday night was one of those nights.