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Photo Credit: © James Carey Lauder-USA TODAY Sports

The Jets Day After: Free Fallin’

I wanted to take a little extra time in writing some “day after” thoughts on this game because directly after the game I was ready for the Jets to sell almost everyone for draft picks, fire Paul Maurice and consider asking Atlanta if they would take the team back and let the NHL know that a mistake was made and we’ll just wait for the Coyotes to become available.

Much like Mathieu Perreault, now that I’ve slept on it, I take back most of what I would have said, but still feel strongly about one of the options I listed. (I’ll let you figure out which one)

To call the Winnipeg Jets effort against the Tampa Bay Lightning on Friday night an embarrassment I feel is understating it a little. Kyle called it “the worst effort of the year” and I don’t even know if that would be fully correct because that would imply that there was some effort involved and beyond the actions of dressing for the game and skating motions, I don’t feel there was.

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Tampa Bay no question is a really good team that was also at the tail end of a five game road trip and the second night of a road back to back. You’d expect them to be off their game somewhat, yet it was the Jets who looked not only physically wore out, but had so many mental errors in the game on top of it.

We are a season removed from the time when a Lightning / Jets game seemed like a possible Stanley Cup Finals preview. Now? Everything seems fine with Tampa even with their early season swoon. The Jets meanwhile are free-falling quickly and Friday night was the most dramatic example of it yet.

Other thoughts…

Defense? What defense?

This isn’t just about the defensemen. They were bad, but there were plenty of examples of the forwards either making bad decisions as well or flat out not trying to backcheck.

What was Perreault doing here? Laser focus on the puck until at the last second – just as Roman Polat starts his pass back to Anthony Cirelli – when he realizes he’s left the Tampa forward all alone. Jack Roslovic was quite the spectator on this play as well as he had a front row seat watching it all happen.

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Mark Scheifele with the brutal turnover and then just kind of half-asses his effort in trying to stop Cirelli.

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So many goals off the rush… Every time Tampa entered the zone with any kind of speed, I half expected a Lightning goal and most of those times I saw one.

We can sit here and say that the Jets defense overall is sub-par by NHL standards (it is) and an excuse can be made that it’s banged up and less than 100% health (it is) and that Tampa is a team on a massive role (they are) but we’ve seen this kind of “defending” all season and allow multiple odd man rushes against each game, sometimes multiple times in a single period. The only difference in those games compared to this game is Connor Hellebyck wasn’t able to bail his team out.

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At some point coaching has to be called into question. Is Paul Maurice sure he has the right systems in place? Players look lost out there when trying to defend so either the system is too complicated, or they just aren’t buying in and either case is cause for alarm.

Poor Hellebuyck

As I said, Friday night was a case where Connor Hellebuyck couldn’t bail out the team in front of him like he has so many times this season and as far as I am concerned, none of it is on him.

Credit to Helle for standing in there against not just Tampa’s two all-star forwards, but against a former Rocket Richard Trophy winner and the current Hart Trophy winner.

If it was me in goal, I would have just skated out of the crease and let them have it. Hey, if my teammates are just going to stop skating and watch it happen (which is what happens here) then I’m going to pull off to the side and watch as well.

Also, if I were a goalie on the Winnipeg Jets, I’d be looking for an apology from my teammates on that “effort” last night.

Slight Jets positives..?

They at least had more shots than the Lightning, but that’s score effects for ya. We’ll look past the fact that Natural Stat Trick had 5 on 5 high danger scoring chances at 14-13 in favor of the Lightning.

Also the Penalty Kill was perfect against a very good Bolts power play. We’ll look past the fact that the Lightning only had one power play of course, but to that end, at least the Jets played a disciplined game? I would guess penalties only happen to a team that’s trying too hard on the ice.

And the it was nice of the Jets to make it obvious that there would be no such comeback or any late game drama, especially after the Cirelli hat trick goal that made it 6-1. It gave the fans a chance to get out of the arena and back home nice and early and who doesn’t appreciate that on a cold and snowy January night? We’ll just look past the fact that the arena being as empty as it was for the end of the game should be sounding off all kinds of alarm bells for Jets management and ownership.

Thank goodness the next Jets home game is two weeks away. We could all use a break from that.