By Darrin Bauming (@DarrinBauming)
WINNIPEG — The goal scoring struggles continue for the Winnipeg Jets, but it’s not for a lack of trying.
Their 3-1 loss to the New York Islanders Tuesday night may appear as an outright dominant outing by Long Island, but the Jets brought an up tempo and high-pressure game, outshooting the Islanders in every frame. The problem — they just can’t put the puck in the net.
Watch post-game reaction:
“It’s not working. We’re not executing. There’s a lot of things we’re not doing,” said coach Claude Noel. “I don’t know if it’s personnel as much as it’s decisions. That’s the bothersome thing. The best players aren’t even executing passes.”
Winnipeg squandered three power play opportunities Tuesday, including two advantages while trailing 2-1 in the third.
“Our power play has to be way better,” said defenceman Zach Bogosian. “That’s how you’re going to win games in this league. We didn’t get it done.”
“It is frustrating to know that you’re playing that many games at home, and that we’ve played so good at home, and we kind of let one slip away there.”
The Jets drop to 16-9-2 on the year at home — still a clearly favourable venue considering an unpleasant 10-17-4 record on the road — while their overall record now sits at 26-26-6, good for 58 points. That’s four points out of a playoff spot, and seven behind the Southeast Division leading Florida Panthers.
The postseason lurks, and while the home savvy Jets remain in contention among the struggling Southeast, they need to take advantage of their next 14 games, in which 11 take place at MTS Centre.
Meanwhile the Islanders, who despite sitting two points back of the tenth place Jets, know how to win on the road (12-11-3). They have had strikingly similar offensive struggles. Among 30 NHL teams, Winnipeg ranks 25th in goals for, while the Islanders rank 27th.
“We know we’re not the best offensive team, but we know if we’re patient and have enough skills from our top forwards that we’re going to get it done,” said Islanders forward PA Parenteau after his two-point performance.
“That’s the main thing when we play on the road and I think we’ve been having success since we’ve been doing that.”
It’s something the Jets could learn from. However, the overshadowing issue remains; Winnipeg lacks the firepower that Long Island touts in Parenteau (51 points), John Tavares (55), and Matt Moulson (49). The top scorers for Winnipeg remain Blake Wheeler (38), Evander Kane (32), and Kyle Wellwood (32).
If Winnipeg wants to make a run to the playoffs, they’ll need to get more scoring from their top-tier forwards in Andrew Ladd (28 points), Bryan Little (26), and Alexander Burmistrov (19) — the same players that frequent their 20th ranked power play that has now gone 2-for-24 in their last ten games.
The Jets travel to Minnesota for a single road game on Thursday night before returning for eight-straight at home through March 5.
ChrisD.ca video/Darrin Bauming