The struggle continues for the Winnipeg Jets, who have now lost seven games in a row after falling short in a 2-1 loss to the Ottawa Senators. With the playoffs around the corner, the Jets must quickly get their act together or risk being overtaken by the Montreal Canadians in the Scotia North Division standings.
Jets’ Power Play, Not Powerful Enough
On Monday night, the Jets had the opportunity to snap their six-game losing streak but were shut down by the goaltending abilities of the Senators’ 22-year-old Filip Gustavsson. While the shots were 29-18 in favour of the Jets, the team struggled to score, especially on the power play. Jets right-winger Blake Wheeler spoke on his team’s inability to capitalize on the power play during the postgame conference.
“When you’re on a power play long enough you realize that there’s going to be an opportunity here or there where they stop you and I think the last couple for our unit was a case of just, we didn’t score, that’s all there is to it.”
But there was more than just “an opportunity here or there” – the Jets had six chances to score on the power play and could not close one.
Yes, Gustavsson had a fantastic night stopping 28 of 29 shots, though some blame has to be placed on the Jets players themselves. Their power play is one for its last 16, and just over a month ago, it granted them wins against teams like the Calgary Flames. Ultimately, as this losing streak has extended to seven straight, something is lacking, and that something needs to be fixed in time for the playoffs.
Scotia North Division Standings At Stake
Tonight’s game against the Flames will be a real testament to the team’s drive and the ability for their big players to step up when necessary in order to hold onto their third-place position in the Scotia North Division. As of today, the Jets and Canadiens are tied in the standings. As both teams play tonight, the outcome of these games could cause a swap in their third and fourth positions and reconfigure the heavily anticipated Canadian playoff matchups.
Jets’ defenseman Josh Morrissey touched on how the players have to continue leaning on each other through this tough stretch, “I think … we just have to stay tight as a group and stick together and the only way we’re going to get out of this, and stop having that bad feeling coming up to the podium here, is by the guys in the room finding a way to get a win.”
Earning a win is critical for the Jets to prove they are in this for the long run. The last time the Jets lost seven consecutive games was in 2006, as the Atlanta Thrashers. While the team would have to lose three more games to tie the franchise’s record of 10 consecutive losses, which occurred back in the 1999-2000 season, it’s fair to say fans will be sent into a frenzy if the Jets reach those 10 losses.
Noise Doesn’t Phase the Jets
Jets’ head coach Paul Maurice emphasized in the post-game conference that the team is barely phased by all the media and fan “noise” surrounding the team’s recent winless drought. “The noise part is not as difficult as you think. If you stay together as a group, spend time together as a group, and you stay supportive verbally – you’re talking, you talk to each other, you talk on the bench, you point out the things that are right, that are good… we can dwell on a little bit of the positives in a negative situation.”
Maurice also praised the work ethic of his players on Monday, stating, “guys played hard tonight, they’re playing hard, they’re competing hard, they’re sticking together, that’s the only path out of this…”
It looked like the Jets could have found their way out of this slump in Monday’s game as Morrissey tied the game at one in the third until Nikita Zaitsev’s scored with 1:13 remaining and granted the Senators the win.
Morrissey talked about the pain that comes with another added loss when nearing the end of the regular NHL season – a critical time in determining a team’s playoff fate, “I guess it doesn’t matter if you lose by three or you lose with one in the last minute, it’s still a loss. But those ones sting a lot more especially when we’re in a situation like we are right now.”
Losing streaks are never fun, but they are devastating in the last week of the regular season and when they match a seven-game losing streak set by the Jets franchise 15 years ago. As the Jets aim to take on all of the chaos the playoffs will offer them, they need to reclaim their confidence to prove they are indeed a playoff contender in the North.