Jets Post-Game 3: Frustration and Futility

Poor Bogo.

Another Pacific Division team came into Winnipeg tonight, fatigued from an extra minutes affair against Minnesota just 24 hours previous. The Jets had capitalized on poor goaltending in their season and home openers, and were looking to turn in a more effective game against an already injury-weakened and tired Ducks team. A "60 minute effort" as people on TV say, as though the glove dryers have remained off to date.

Instead, it was a game of pure frustration for the Jets. We heard a lot about effort, about wanting the puck, and about the little things again. But for all their access to the game and their view from above, the on-the-fly analysts seems to misunderstand the simple reality of the game – the Ducks isolated Jet puck carriers with Boudreau’s well-established puck pressure system, and the Jets never adjusted to give puck support or to open the gap behind the defenders through re-groups. Turnover City. Breakout Breakdown. Trapped in a Neutral Zone. Pick your movie title, but let’s all hope they don’t keep making them like those damn Hangover films.

Teemu Night in Winnipeg

I wasn’t listening, but I assume "In the Box" is scarier than we think. Or he was doing a Duck impression.

Teemu got everything the fans could give him – a couple standing ovations, the "Yeah!" then "boo!" cheer every time he touched the puck, and more Selanne jerseys than anyone knew existed peppering the crowds. Unfortunately, we didn’t see him pot one – even just to put us out of our misery. 

It was the last time, and even if it wasn’t a memorable game, it was a memorable night. Thanks again, Teemu.

The Good

By eye, Jacob Trouba had the sort of game that shows he’s among the Jets’ best 6 defenders. He showed good awareness for the game – jumping up in the dying minutes on a short-handed rush, making some patient reads when he got isolated, and making some good outlet passes in a game where those seemed to be in short supply.

He and Stuart had an absurd zone-start of 1 Ozone to 10 Dzone draws, but there were a lot more defensive zone draws to go around in general. Still, not the best circumstances for a 19 year old.

Andrew Ladd got a couple goals, including a 1st period tip when Blake Wheeler took a shot on the powerplay like it was 2011. His other goal was created by using the space behind the Ducks’ defenders, which is the space in which their aggressive system is most vulnerable. The Jets most common entry was a simple chip in the neutral zone when they got stood up, and in doing that simple play, they forced Anaheim to retreat all the way to their net to begin defending again. In this case, Ladd found Wheeler trailing in space, who missed the net. The puck bounced out front and Ladd still had space of his own, thanks to three Ducks lined up in front of the crease. 

Many people are going to call Pavelec a bright spot in the game, and he did make 30 stops. Once again we heard about how he was keeping them in it. At one point, the colour guy on the ol’ t.v. said he had great "battle," but honestly, he created half those battles for himself, and his rebound control was such that the Jets had to swat pucks back to the Ducks in situations where a better goalie gives them a better play (like a faceoff, or a rebound into a quiet space on the ice). The Ducks were generating offence on throw-ins from the blue line and going in for the inevitable rebound. The Clitsome high-sticking penalty was defending Winnik from getting to a puck that just never should have been there. It’s always an adventure with Pavelec, but at some point that has to be recognized as a problem.

The Bad

Olli Jokinen dives into his own net while TSN taunts Jets fans with the memory of better players.

To go back to Trouba – the math tells us he had the worst shot attempt % among defenders in the game. In his defence, no one was over 50% for the Jets, but Trouba’s 37% is only a touch lower than the 40% he brought into the game. He’s not being given an easy assignment – his zone starts and partner are enough to give him a pass for the game – but he’s still better by eye than math (as we can expect for young players).

Speaking of problems on the back-end, how about those turnovers by Grant Clitsome? He’s fresh off injury reserve with (I believe) one practice yesterday and a morning skate today. The team was eager to get him in because of the struggles of Postma and Stuart together, but it may have been a game early. Clitsome was tenative with the puck in a high-pressure game and skated into pressure more often than out of it. Brutal game for Clitsome.

Jim Slater. Just. Come on. Give the guy a map, or a compass at least. How is he supposed to find his way out of his own end?

Peluso came in for Thorburn for the game, and Noel immediately cut the minutes of the fourth line. Peluso got 3:51, and still the announcing crew managed to talk about his offensive game. That comment came on a play in which he couldn’t create a passing lane in the neutral zone, so carried in as the third skater. The weak-side forward (Tangradi) had to turn away from the line, and Slater was standing with his legs in the splits by the time Peluso crossed the line. Now without help, Peluso shot a 70 ft wrister on net and began playing defence as the TSN crew lauded his shot. He might be better than Thorburn, but it doesn’t mean he belongs on an NHL roster.

Scheifele’s minutes were low again this game, behind Jokinen and Little, while Kane was double shifted when the Jets needed a goal and led all forwards in the game with 22 minutes. In all those 22 minutes, Kane failed to get a puck to the net, though he made 7 attempts.

It was frustrating for every Jet out there. A lack of puck support meant the Jets failed to beat the Ducks’ isolating pressure on the puck. The Jets were always 1 on 2 or 3 with few or no options. When we talk about a team ‘maturing,’ it can mean the ability to use the spaces that other teams give, rather than needing to create from particular spaces. The Ducks give space, but it’s always behind the closest attacker, so it takes trust from the puck carrier and awareness from those without the puck to take advantage. Otherwise, it’s a blind play to no one at best, and a pure turnover at worst.

Best Play by Play Quote

"You need someone else’s eyes to talk for you when you can’t turn around."

See, even the colour guy agrees with my analysis.