Wheeler on fire, Flames hotter
The bad news is the Jets have fallen out of a playoff spot after back-to-back losses on the road. The good news is that the trip is over and they’ve been scoring some goals. Everyone knew this pair of games in Western Canada was going to be tough, but it would have been nice to walk away with two out of a possible four points, given the circumstances. The Jets are still alive, but missed a chance to gain some ground on Florida and Washington has caught them. Only 13 games remain and both the Panthers and Capitals have two games in hand.
Thursday night’s effort was encouraging. They got a couple of big goals from Kyle Wellwood and Blake Wheeler, played solid defensively in a tight game but in the end they couldn’t hold a 2-1 lead and were vanquished by a Canucks team that is among the class of the Western Conference.
Last night was a different story. Against the Flames who are spotty offensively, Winnipeg surrendered five goals. Simply put, unacceptable. Ondrej Pavelec wasn’t great, but the players in front of him did not take very good care of the puck and didn’t help clear rebounds that laid loose for the Calgary to pounce on. There were a number of times on the PK where the Jets had opportunities to clear and failed, and this resulted in a couple of Calgary goals. The Flames went three for three on the power play.
On the bright side, Evander Kane and Blake Wheeler continue to play great hockey. Kane probably could have had two or three last night, but was held to one thanks to the heroics of Mikka Kiprusoff. As for Wheeler, he now has goals in four straight games and is teeming with confidence right now. Wheeler stormed into the Calgary zone, carried the puck to the outside and blew a hard wrister past Kipper for his tally last night. He has been a force for Winnipeg they way he’s been using his large frame combined with his speed and skill to slice through the offensive zone and create havoc and scoring chances. Wheeler is a unique type of player because of his skill set and can shine in the playoffs if the Jets get there.
They’ll have a chance to regroup and recharge as the Jets don’t play again until Wednesday when they host the Dallas Stars, another strong Western Conference foe. The Stars are fighting for the #3 seed in the West and play physical and positionally sound hockey.
The time off could be beneficial in getting Zach Bogosian back into the lineup, especially with the way the Jets have struggled of late. Last Monday it was reported that he would be out for about a week. Every game is a big one from here on out.