Winnipeg – There was nothing to collect from sifting through the wreckage of this blowout.
For the Winnipeg Jets, the early 2-0 lead was nothing short of a distant memory, with time captain Blake Wheeler, forward Nicolas Ehlers and interim head coach Dave Lori stepping into the microphone to ask questions from onlookers in Toronto.
While the scars of the 7-3 defeat at the hands of the Toronto Maple Leafs were still fresh, the players and coaches alike were adjusting their outlook on the future, while fully recognizing the lost opportunity and what it meant in its grand plan. Things for a team that is fast approaching the end of the runway which is a regular season of 82-games.
“There are areas where we need to improve,” Lori told reporters. “You need to have a short-term memory at this time of year.”
Such a life when a team occupies that lonely and uncomfortable place in hockey refinement – close enough to be within a significant distance from the second wild card spot of the Western Conference but far enough to know that the margin for error is very small. A small number of losses.
For those of you who are scoring at home with 13 games left, the Jets will not be able to bear more than one loss per week next month – and perhaps not so much when you consider the speed with the Dallas Stars (who won the OT on Thursday) having three games in hand. Points go up) playing at the moment.
It’s a long order to ask any team, but because of the up-and-down nature of the campaign, the Jets are now forced to deal with a situation – the three-game winning streak was snatched away on Thursday.
Every time Laurie mentions the need for a narrow focus at this time of the season, there is an element of equation where those short-term memories did not serve the jets well.
And as good as they were at 11-5-1 when they were pushed back on the perimeter of this play-off race, their inability to prevent their self-inflicted wounds from costing them will win. ‘ Don’t be.
After the Jets took the lead on an exciting personal effort to take a twist from Wheeler (who extended his point streak to seven games) and Paul Stastney, those Pak management problems were common again.
Mark Sheffield’s offensive blue line from the center helped turn an inadvertent turnover tide in the backhand, even though Mark Giordano had time to defend the jets defensively before using a double bank from Logan Stanley and Brendan Dillon to help Maple Leafs.
Then a parade in the penalty box – including several uncontrolled offensive-zone minors – proved costly as the NHL’s top power play hit three times with Man-Advantage.
Although the Ehlers managed a power-play goal of their own, the Jets also dropped a shorthanded marker to turn it into a 5-3 game and they didn’t really recover as they lost 4-1 in the special-team battle.
In Ilya Mikheev’s shorts, Sheffield led Maple Leafs to his sight but could not track him backwards or interrupt his shot.
After combining two powerful games while playing in a separate line from Wheeler, Sheffield’s past two attempts weren’t what he set for himself during his NHL career.
With top scorer Kyle Connor and defender Net Schmidt missing in the second of three games after landing in the NHL’s Covid-19 protocol, the timing for this regression could not be too bad for Sheffield – who played a smart game at D. Zone which helped him get a goal from Stastney.
Sheffield’s ability to find offensive touch since the NHL All-Star break is one of the reasons the Jets are back in the race, but when his detailed attention is diverted to the Pak defense, he often moves to the uncomfortable side. Highlight reels.
It’s not about pointing the finger at a single player, the Jets weren’t good enough collectively.
When you face a team that has now taken 90 points, subper effort often does not measure up.
Needed near perfection and the jets got nowhere near reaching that level.
“I thought we played well first and then I think we cooked the rest of the game,” Wheeler said. “We had nothing.”
One of the reasons they didn’t have much left in their tanks after enduring a busy stretch of schedule that included seven games in the last 12 days is that they haven’t been able to lean enough to the fourth line this season.
This is a theme that dates back to a large part of the Paul Morris era and is one that has to move forward.
Yes, Jet has a number of highly-skilled players who like to play 20-plus minutes per game and, of course, many are understood to be riding those horses at night. But it comes with a cost.
Because of that reliance, some of these top guns don’t have much to offer on some nights – especially when a team reaches the 69-game mark.
Regularly playing five or six minutes is not enough for the fourth line and the toll taken by other forwards is shown here.
The Jets will open a three-game home stand against the Los Angeles Kings on Saturday and will have to find a way to get to power before the three-day break. They will host the Detroit Red Wings next Wednesday.
“We’re in a place where we have to win the game and it’s the hardest time of the year, along with the playoffs,” Ehler said. “It’s not easy to win, so we just have to keep humiliating. It doesn’t matter if we’re out now or if we’re still in it right now, we have to have some confidence to win the game because we have the team to do it.
“We’ve played some really good games and some really bad games this year, and we have to win some. That’s the way it is. “